• solicits support, funding for victims’ care

From Fred Ezeh Abuja,

Brain and Spine Foundation Africa, has intensify campaign for an increased care and support, financially and otherwise, for victims of brain tumor and other related injuries.

The Foundation said many lives and destinies are being cut short untimely, because of poor care and support to people who had passed through an operating theater (also known as an Operating Room) for brain tumor and other related injuries, and survived it.

Engr. Chika Okwuolisa, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Brain and Spine Foundation Africa, told journalists at an interaction session in Abuja, that many lives have been cut short due to poor care, hence the decision to take up the challenge to restore hope on such people.

She said that many victims would enjoy their lives again and contribute to the growth and development of Nigeria if they had gotten adequate attention, care and love they needed.

She noted that every March, partners across the world commemorate Brain Awareness Week 2024, to, perhaps, raise global awareness on effect of brain and spinal cord challenges.

Okwuolisa said the awareness week often provide opportunities to host several enlightenments activities in communities to share the wonders of the brain on life and living.

She highlighted several interventions by the Foundation towards the care for victims of brain and spinal cord injuries, home and abroad, promising that if more support, financial and logistics, are provided for the Foundation, more people who need urgent help and attention would be reached, and more results and hope would be restored.

At the commemorative event, some of the victims of brain tumor and other related injuries, narrated their experiences, and how the support they received from the Foundation changed their situation.

Mrs. Joy Kemakolam, a brain tumour survivor, highlighted that numerous individuals, particularly in rural areas, experience brain disorders, but often mistake them for malaria or other ailments due to lack of awareness.

44-year-old Kemakolam said she was diagnosed with a brain tumour in January 2019, but initially mistaken that for severe headaches, and never thought of tumour.

“Afterward, I began to experience partial paralysis and seizures. Within three days, I slipped into a coma. Several diagnoses were done, and it was discovered that I had brain tumor, and needed surgery.

“As a classroom teacher, it was challenging to gather funds for the operation. Luckily for me, family members and schoolmates assisted and collectively raised two million naira that I used to undergo the necessary surgeries.

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“It was incredibly difficult to raise such a large sum, particularly coming from a disadvantaged background. I believe the federal government should intervene to assist individuals with similar conditions. Those afflicted should receive financial aid to cover their medical expenses and post treatment supports.”

Another survivor, Ms Judith Akin-Moses, aged 26, recounted her journey with a brain tumour, which began at the age of six, while she was in primary school in Lagos state.

Akin-Moses said the “drama” started with a headache at school, for which she was given analgesics to calm down the situation. “Initially, my parents thought it was a minor issue, but it escalated, leading to a coma. Upon recovery from the coma, various ailments surfaced, prompting another coma that lasted for a month.

“Afterward, I was diagnosed with a brain tumour and underwent multiple surgeries both home and abroad, before ultimately surviving.”

Despite her survival, Akin-Moses said she continued to undergo treatments and relied on medication, as symptoms occasionally resurface.

Advocating for increased awareness, she underlined the importance of educating teachers in schools about the dangers of dismissing every headache as common malaria.

Similarly, Mrs. Patricia Okoro, mother of an 11-year-old brain injury survivor (name withheld) revealed the financial strain her family has endured since her son’s accident three years ago.

Okoro appealed for assistance from the government and large corporations to aid individuals coping with brain tumours and injuries.

They also urged the government to assist Foundations like Brain and Spine Foundation Africa, to lead in advocacy and sensitization of the populace, especially at the grassroots, on early detection of brain tumours and injuries.

Earlier, the keynote speaker, Dr. Benneth Ikem Ilechukwu, Head, Physiotherapy Department, State House Clinic, Abuja, advocated different therapies for proper recovery of victims of brain and spinal cord injuries

He said: “These therapies include physical therapy to improve mobility; occupational therapy to regain daily living skills; speech and language therapy to address communication difficulties; cognitive rehabilitation to enhance cognitive functions; and psychological therapy to manage emotional and behavioural issues.”