According to the World Health Organization, the incidence of Down syndrome is around 1 in 1000 births globally.
People with Down syndrome come from all races and economic backgrounds and they are prone to discrimination and stigmatization. In African communities, where differently-abled and intellectually challenged people are often maltreated and abused, those with Down syndrome are most times left without proper care.
Long-standing cultural and religious beliefs have marred the ability of most African communities to fully accept those who are born with this genetic condition and more awareness and advocacy is needed to change these beliefs. Unfortunately, funding for research, advocacy and educational programmes specially designed for those with Down syndrome is also limited.
Despite these constraints, a few committed organizations have helped lay the foundation towards a more inclusive environment. Here are three African non-profit organizations worth noting for their work in providing the protection, awareness, and specialized programming for people with Down syndrome in Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda.
Down Syndrome Foundation Nigeria (DSFN)
Research has shown that 1 in 865 births in Nigeria have Down syndrome. The Down Syndrome Foundation Nigeria has been at the forefront of aiding those who are differently-abled in Nigeria since 2001 and has, over the years, created a support system for children with Down syndrome, their parents, guardians, and caregivers. With a mission to bridge the gap between people with Down syndrome and the rest of society, the Foundation provides educational and counselling programmes as well as medical interventions for those who are registered with the Foundation. A professional management team, including medical personnel and an educational psychologist, manage these programmes. The Foundation is particularly proud of its alumni, including those who have integrated into society remarkably well. An alumnus won a Gold medal at the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games and two alumni represented Nigeria in floor hockey at the 2013 Winter Olympics in South Korea.
For more information about their work and how you can support the Down Syndrome Foundation Nigeria, go to their website.Source: Down Syndrome Foundation Nigeria
Down Syndrome South Africa
According to the Down Syndrome South Africa (DSSA) organization, the incidence of Down syndrome is about 1 in 500 births in South Africa. Founded in 1986, DSSA seeks to support these differently-abled members of society through its eight branches, four outreach centers, and a support group. Through its association members, the organization holds workshops and teaches parents and siblings how to care for a Down syndrome family member. DSSA has also established an advocacy group which is focused on lobbying and influencing policy changes in favour of those with intellectual disabilities.
For more information about Down Syndrome South Africa, visit their website.Source: Down Syndrome South Africa
Angel’s Center for Children with Special Needs
In Uganda, Down syndrome causes 0.5 deaths per 100,000 people according to HelathGrove. In confronting this challenge, the Angel’s Center for Children with Special Needs has cared for Ugandan children with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, spinal bifida, hydrocephalus and communication disorders since 2012. The Center provides guidance; advocates for the rights of the intellectually disabled and seeks to integrate them into the larger society. Angel’s Center offers developmental support such as stimulation and physical therapy, which promote the proper functioning of the senses and the body. In addition to linking children to special needs schools, the Center gives basic education to members using advanced information technology such as computers and ipads.
For more information about Angel’s Center for Children with Special Needs, visit the Center’s website.
Source: Angel’s Center for Children with Special Needs