Stakeholders working to address rickets among children in Kaduna State have called for extensive research to determine causes of the condition and find a lasting solution to the problem.
The stakeholders made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday, in Kwoi, Jaba Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
NAN reports that rickets is a condition caused by calcium deficiency that affects bone development, causing bone pain, poor growth, and soft and weak bones that can lead to bone deformities in children.
One of the stakeholders, Mr Samuel Igo, the Deputy Director of Administration, Bimma Specialist Hospital Jos, stressed the need for vigorous research to find lasting solutions to rickets.
Igo, who spoke on the sideline of a town hall meeting on Rickets Project orgainsed by Hope for the Village Child Foundation (HVCF), told NAN that only research would address the problem.
“For now, calcium supplement administered to pregnant women is currently the workable preventive measures against rickets.
“The corrective measure is calcium to children affected by the condition and corrective surgery for complicated cases.
“But considering the huge number of children being born with the condition, research is needed to prevent children from developing the condition,” he said.
He said that Bimma Hospital, an orthopaedic and plastic surgery centre, had been partnering with HVCF for about 20 years, correcting the deformities among children.
According to him, there is hope that the affected children will live a normal life with corrective surgery, no matter how complicated the case is.
He, however, advised on early detection and treatment to minimise complications and give children a chance to live a normal life.
Mr Meson Dangana, Field Mobilisation Officer, HVCF, Southern Kaduna Rickets Project, said that the organisation embarked on preventive intervention due to the increasing number of children developing rickets in the state.
Dangana who equally emphasised the need for research, said the project began in Jaba Local Government Area of the state with the enrolment of about 300 women placed on calcium supplement.
He told NAN that the goal was to prevent children being born with rickets.
He said that after three years of implementation, only two children were born with rickets, from the 300 women who took calcium tablet during pregnancy.
“This shows the importance of research in eliminating the condition by tracing the root cause and addressing it,” he said.
Mrs Victoria Ahmadu, one of the benefiting mothers, told NAN that her nine-year old Amanda Ahmadu developed the condition when she was two years old.
Ahmadu said that the condition was corrected with 1000 mg of calcium tablets taken daily for a period of three years provided by Hope for the Village Child Foundation.
“When I gave birth to my second child, we discovered that the baby also has the same condition and HVCF decided to place me on calcium supplement and my third baby was born without rickets,” she said.
The Director, HVCF Rev. Sister Rita Schwarzenberger, said that research was critical considering that the children do not lack Vitamin D, which activates calcium because of the availability of sunshine.
“Yet for some reason, the children have insufficient calcium to strengthen their bones during their early growth and eventual development of rickets.
“Research was done on soil, water, and food, bone fragments, blood, urine, and saliva in different geographical areas of the state, which revealed that the affected children lack calcium.
“However, extensive research needs to be done to determine why the children lack sufficient calcium in spite availability of sunshine in the area,” she said.
Schwarzenberger said that the Foundation had so far enrolled more than 2,000 children for rickets treatment in the state, out of which about 200 underwent rickets surgery to correct the deformity.
She also said that about 300 of the children had been treated with 1000mg of calcium taken daily for three years.
The reverend sister said that the project, which began in Chikun Local Government Area of the state had been expanded to four local government Areas, namely Jaba, Kachia, Jema’a and Kagarko.
According to her, about 110 children are currently on the drugs at N3,700 per child per month amounting to N407,000 per month, while parents have been asked to contribute as little as N400 per month.
She said that other children with complicated ricket cases were being prepared for surgery, adding that the cost had increased from N400,000 to N1.1 million, while parents pay just N21,000 of the total cost. (NAN)