Future for SCI Rehabilitation in Nigeria Still Bleak, Says Survivor

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Esther Oluku

As today marks the International Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Day, survivors in Nigeria still have a bleak hope for the future as not one rehabilitation centre exists in the country.

Speaking with THISDAY, the founder of Gems Heart One Love Foundation, Ms. Oluwafunmilayo Mobolaji, disclosed that in spite of the traumatic nature of the accidents leading to spinal cord injury and the size of the country, the Nigerian government is yet to establish a rehabilitation centre in Nigeria.

“Rehabilitation is very important for spinal cord patients to gain back their lives and it is crucial. It is not easy to come to terms with a sudden inability to walk and the government has to take adequate measure to address this.

“We need a rehabilitation home for spinal cord injury patients. Going outside the country to get rehabilitation upon sustaining a SCI is expensive. You pay nothing less than ten to fourteen million naira. I am yet to see the one of five million naira.

“Why should we spend so much to get rehabilitated outside the country when the government can make provision for us here? It would teach us and our care givers a lot on how to live an independent life, she said.

Mobolaji also stated that among the challenges of SCI are lack of mobility and accessibility, discrimination, financial support and lack of adequate medical care.

These challenges, she said, goes beyond drugs and physiotherapy.

“Most SCI patients are not able to go out because their parent or guardian lack the knowledge on how to care for them. In Nigeria, it is believed that once a person has an accident and cannot walk again, the next thing is to be stationary, eat, drink and sleep. Even some are being abandoned by their families on the hospital bed.

“As a foundation, we have been counseling people with SCI. we have gone to Igbobi to talk to SCI patients and to encourage them not to give up on themselves and to learn a skill to earn them an income. The injury is quite expensive to maintain because of drugs, exercises, change of wheel chairs and other things as well.

“We are using this medium to appeal to the government to fulfill all the promises made so that we can live a happier life.”