Mr Benjamin Amewornu, an industrial designer, passionate about independent mobility of children and youth with disabilities in Ghana, has started a project to manufacture mobility devices to support them.
Mafanam Foundation, a non-profit organisation registered in Ghana in 2016 does not only give-out mobility devices, but ensures that they are designed for appropriate fitting, seating and postural support. They are also environmentally friendly.
In an interview with the Ghana News Agency, Mr Amewornu said the mobility devices are manufactured locally in Ghana, offering technicians invaluable technical know-how:
“Our mobility devices are appropriate for children to use at school and makes them mobile to able to participate in school activities and reduce unwanted movement patterns and tone, in turn helping to reduce deformities,” he added.
Mr Amewornu said a research done by his organisation revealed that about 99 per cent of children and youth with disabilities are the exclusive responsibility of families, especially mothers and grandmothers, hence the need for mobility devices to reduce the burden on caregivers.
“Having access to a range of adjustable paediatric wheelchairs, which provide the best adjustable posture support, ensures that the child can benefit from the best possible physical function, and if correctly fitted and reviewed, the device will delay and prevent the development of secondary health complications,” he said.
Mr Amewornu who has worked on a number of such projects abroad, raised other concerns about the local context:
“Working with therapists in the communities there in South Africa raises a lot of concern whether the therapists in Ghana do have sufficient knowledge about wheelchair seating and 24 hour positioning options.”
He said there is an urgent need for a policy to support adequate seating as a major road block to children and youth with disabilities, especially those with cerebral palsy in Ghana and Africa as whole.
He revealed that his organisation is now collaborating with the Special Mothers Project, an organisation that advocates and educates about cerebral palsy (CP) to create awareness and inform Ghanaians about childhood disability and the need for support.
Mrs Hannah Awadzi, founder of the Special Mothers Project, expressed happiness about the collaboration, and said there is the need for parental involvement.
She said health professionals need to dialogue and communicate with parents on a range of issues, including Cerebral Palsy management for best results.
“I hope that we can work together to advocate for favourable policies for children with cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy does not only affect the child, it affects the parents, it affects the entire family, and it affects the nation as a whole,” she added.