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Posts Tagged ‘Down Syndrome Day’

Wellbeing Foundation Africa Creates Awareness on World Down Syndrome Day

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

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In recognition of the 7th anniversary of World Down Syndrome Day on the 21st of March 2012, the Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA), a leading pan-African maternal newborn and child health (MNCH) advocacy and empowerment organization, urges public and private healthcare providers to equip hospitals and clinics with amenities necessary to facilitate prenatal testing that will aid in the diagnosis of Down syndrome. This year will mark the first time World Down Syndrome Day will be officially observed by the United Nations.

All around the world, millions of individuals are fighting against the stigma and exclusion that comes with living with Down syndrome as many communities are not cognisant of the complexities of the disorder and are unaware of the vital contributions that those living with Down syndrome make to society. The Wellbeing Foundation Africa, promulgators of change and awareness, recently sponsored members of the Nigerian Special Olympics swim team who won gold, silver and bronze medals at the World Summer Games in Athens, Greece.

A genetic chromosomal disorder, Down syndrome affects approximately one in seven hundred live births with older women having a higher risk of giving birth to children with the disorder. Causing various physical and mental complications including flattened facial features, heart defects and learning disabilities, Down syndrome can be diagnosed prenatally during pregnancy using several different tests including ultrasounds, amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling (CVS). Unfortunately however, many health care providers in Nigeria and other countries in Africa lack the technical capacity and equipment to conduct diagnostics that will inform expectant mothers of their child’s health during pregnancy.

In addition to encouraging the success of those living with the congenital disorder, the Wellbeing Foundation Africa has included an optional Down syndrome special growth chart, developed by the Down Syndrome Medical Interest Group, in its revolutionary WBFA Integrated Maternal Newborn and Child Health Personal Health Record (PHR)©. A simple yet effective tool that will help achieve United Nations Millennium Development Goals 3, 4 and 5, the PHR© provides pregnant women with a documented record of their medical conditions, every stage in their pregnancy, and the life of their child for the first 5 years. With this tool, the Wellbeing Foundation Africa is working to ensure that all mothers receive a full continuum of care from well informed healthcare professionals. Given that children born with Down syndrome have special health needs such as heart and intestinal abnormalities, the Personal Health Records© with the Down syndrome special growth chart takes the developmental trajectory of these children into account. Currently, the Personal Health Records© has empowered over 200,000 mothers in Nigeria with the Foundation committed to reaching a total of 5.3 million women by 2015.

On World Down Syndrome Day, the Wellbeing Foundation Africa not only calls for better equipped prenatal testing facilities across the continent, but encourages all communities to learn more about Down syndrome and embrace those living with the disorder.