Hope for the Village Child Foundation has been working with persons affected by rickets for more than 25 years but because the problem of rickets is not lessening for those affected, the organisation is placing special effort on expanding awareness. Where children’s bones are severely affected to the extent of needing surgery, this is being done. But it is expensive and the project tries to find other ways to tackle this problem.
To this end, the staff of the organisation recently embarked on a sensitization programme. Even though the project has been active for some years, there are still people who do not know the facts about rickets and how if they are aware, they can prevent severe deformity in some cases if an affected child is brought early for treatment.
Parents and other interested parties who attended the sensitization learned that rickets, caused by calcium deficiency, affects the entire skeletal structure, though what is commonly seen is the deformity in the legs. This is identified when the child begins walking and puts weight on the leg bones, causing the bending and/or compression of the bones. The participants were able to see pictures of the different types of deformity caused by rickets.
Parents were encouraged to incorporate into their diet various types of calcium-rich foods. Though these are not proven to prevent rickets all together, any source of calcium is healthy for any family member, and may be of special importance to children with rickets as well as to mothers who are expecting or breastfeeding their children.
The parents were informed also about the importance of the calcium supplements with which the project assists children. They were shown pictures of how the calcium supplements have changed children’s lives. The picture of Godiya Jonah (shown below) and others were shown to demonstrate the importance of parents ensuring that their children are faithful to the regimen of calcium given to them.
Parents also had their own questions. One question was whether adults can develop rickets. The answer is that rickets begins in childhood and the effects can extend into adulthood. But deformities developing in the skeletons of adults is caused by other conditions not known as rickets. Another question was concerning whether rickets is hereditary. Rickets as we see it in Kaduna State does seem to have some component of heredity in it, but it has not been determined by research.
More discussion and displays of pictures were shown and the parents left with more knowledge which gave them an added sense of control over how rickets may affect their lives and the lives of others in their communities and what they can do to address the situation.