PRESIDENT, Nigerian Federation for Neuro-Rehabilitation (NFNR), Professor Sola Ogunniyi, has said that Nigeria’s burden of diseases that affect the brain, spine and nerves is large and at least 10 per cent of these individuals end up with some disability.
Ogunniyi spoke at the annual sub-Saharan African regional conference of the Nigerian Federation for Neuro-Rehabilitation. He said caring for disabilities from these neurological diseases is difficult because the few neuro-rehabilitation facilities in Nigeria are mainly in the physiotherapy centres.
According to him, the dearth of low technologies and ways to bring about improvements in the rehabilitation of individuals have deprived them opportunities to get back to their formal state of functioning in life.
“In this conference, we are focusing on low technologies and ways by which we can adapt what we have to bring about improvements in the rehabilitation of individuals,” he said.
For a disability-free Nigeria, he called on the Federal Government to build of the capacity of different specialists involved in neuro-rehabilitation and create public awareness on the brain and spinal injury prevention, while providing the wherewithal in hospitals to have illnesses diagnosed appropriately and treated in time before injuries become a problem.
Dean, Faculty of Clinical Sciences, University of Ibadan and pioneering regional vice-president, World Federation for Neurorehabilitation, Professor Mayowa Owolabi, said sub-Sahara Africa is faced with a cycle of disease, poverty and ignorance, adding that the most affected are those having a physical disability.
He said, “People with physical disability who do not even have the strength to fight against this problem many times become a burden to themselves and a burden to other people.”
Professor Owolabi stressed that almost all disabilities can be helped and that “those who have lost the ability to speak or walk, we can all revive. We can make them function again; we can make them contribute to society again. But it does not come easy; it is teamwork.”
He said already, NFNR had started a movement to join forces and train more people for neurorehabilitation to ensure that services are available to people who need them, and especially for the underprivileged.
Professor Barbara Wilson, President of the UK Encephalitis Society, in her keynote address said neurorehabilitation is goal-oriented and may be targeted at achieving cognitive, emotional or social goals.
Wilson, who said much resources are not required often to ensure neurorehabilitation, stated that evidence-based patient-oriented neurorehabilitation can save health and social services money.
Professor David Good, President-elect, World Federation for Neurorehabilitation noted that low technology gadgets are as good as high technology gadgets in ensuring better lives for people with disabilities.
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