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FCDO visit early intervention project site in Uganda

6 March 2018

Exterior of the hospital with people walking towards the front doorOn Friday 23 February, Sense International hosted a visit from Penny Innes the Head of the Disability Inclusion team, of the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) at our Early Intervention project site at Entebbe General Hospital (pictured left). One of the four Early Intervention project sites we are running in Uganda.

It was Penny’s first visit to Uganda to see the work that FCDO is funding through the UK Aid Match scheme. This Early Intervention project was established thanks to the ‘Finding Grace’ appeal, with the public donations matched by FCDO.

Babies are screened first through a questionnaire that identifies risk factors such as any malformation of eyes or ears, or if the mother had a rash during the first trimester of pregnancy which would indicate infection with German Measles. Then if any factors are identified, the second step is for babies to be screened with equipment to identify any vision or hearing impairment. Dr Moses Muwanga, who leads the project at Entebbe hospital told us that some parents travel a long way to reach the hospital, including from islands in Lake Victoria.

Dr Moses Muwanga in his office, speaking with Penny Innes

In the play, counselling and physio-therapy room, Clare, an Occupational Therapist, shows mothers how to do physio on their babies at home to promote faster development. Mothers appreciate the chance to share and learn from each other. They come weekly for physio and sensory stimulation and have noticed great improvements.

A room with adults sitting on the floor, engaging with a baby and some toys

Aaron (pictured above with his mother), who is 16 months old is unable to sit up without assistance. His mother is helping him learn to play with toys and to roll and turn himself over.

Dr Nelson explained the stages of helping a child to walk: first the parallel bars, then a walking frame with wheels, then steps with with the reward of a slide down!

A group of people in a room with brightly coloured walking aides and frames.
The special equipment in the sensory stimulation room established by Sense International helps babies develop their vision (special lighting) and hearing (audio system).

A woman and baby in a dark coloured room of red and blueIn the sensory stimulation room, Rose (mother pictured) says two year old Samantha was premature, had meningitis and has spastic cerebral palsy. When she first came to the unit she was severely malnourished as she had trouble swallowing. The staff showed Rose how to feed Samantha and she has now gained weight. Despite her visual impairments, Samantha has learned to recognise people and can hold your finger in her hand. The sensory stimulation room is the only one in Uganda. The expertly trained staff provide a unique lifeline to parents who often say they had lost hope for their children before they came to the Sense International unit.

The research on prevalence of Congenital Rubella Syndrome we are doing as part of the project is providing much needed statistics for Uganda, Dr Barnabas, who is leading the research, believes the results can also be extrapolated to neighbouring countries in East Africa.

Find out more about the FCDO UK Aid Match funded Finding Grace campaign, which made this early intervention facility possible.

First published: Tuesday 18 June 2013
Last updated: Friday 6 December 2019