Mothers with babies born with microcephaly not forgotten

– two tell the story of raising their infants

DPI, Guyana, October 26, 2018

Two years on, mothers of babies born with microcephaly, Andrea Garner and Puttana Dos Santos have shared the challenges of raising their infants. However, the support given by the government has made the coping process easier and they now hope to see their children grow to their fullest potential.

Since the first reported case of Zika-related microcephaly in 2016, the Ministry of Public Health became engaged in a strategic plan of action which seeks to provide support to the mothers of these babies.

As such, the mothers who spoke with the Department of Public Information (DPI) told of their challenges over the past two years and highlighted the government’s efforts to provide support.

First up, Andrea Garner, the mother of a two-year-old baby girl, said that from the beginning, the thought of raising a child with a disability was not an easy pill to swallow. “No one wishes for their child to have a disability,” she remarked. Andrea explained that after giving birth she learnt of the provisions made by the Ministry of Public Health. She added that though she is now dealing with emotional issues related to the news of having to raise a child with a disability she is grateful that she has the psycho-social support provided by the mental health unit.

“After her birth and knowing that parents can access services free of cost and there is a great support in terms of the needs of both the child and the parent, she has been able to access a wide range of services including rehab services… Even the test that she has to do and it’s a lot because r she has developmental delays, she gets seizures and also, she has low vision because of damage to the eye,” Garner said.

Puttana Dos Santos recounts her experience, raising her son with microcephaly, thus far, as stressful one. Dos Santos  says she has not has the support of the baby’s father. As a result, she faces financial challenges since she is currently unemployed. “It’s a little rough but I love my son … my family, they try their best to brace me and so far, the government has been helping”

Dos Santos said she too is grateful for the assistance and the necessary support she has received over the past two years. “I am getting public assistance, I’m getting help where the doctor’s call, they are concerned about his growth and development.”

While this is noteworthy, she said there is still the challenge of keeping up with regular visits to the clinic and the doctor’s office. “So far, I would say that the government is doing enough but it’s still hard for me… because my son has to go therapy every Tuesday and eye clinic, then he has to also attend clinic for them to check how he is developing in Georgetown, he goes to clinic in Canal No. 1.”

The ministry of Public Health instituted support groups for these mothers while ensuring that they access public assistance. Additionally, the child’s growth and development are continually monitored by doctors in the public health system.

Delicia Haynes

Images: Leon Leung

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