World Cerebral Palsy Day is celebrated every year on 6 Oct to raise awareness as well as to ensure that persons with cerebral palsy have access to their human rights and opportunities, just like everyone else.
What is cerebral palsy?
Cerebral palsy is the most common physical disability in childhood. It affects 17 million people globally, and 350 million family members and caregivers. It is caused by an injury to the developing brain which occurs before, during or soon after birth. For most cases, the cause is unknown. Cerebral palsy is a lifelong disability that affects movement and is often accompanied by speech, swallowing, cognitive, vision and hearing impairments.
Theme for World Cerebral Palsy Day 2017
The theme for world cerebral palsy day 2017 is - 'We will tell the world … I am here, we are here'. It is time to close the gap between the everyday circumstances and the real potential of people living with cerebral palsy. Too many people receive ineffective therapies, too many individuals and their families lack access to basic information and support, too little money is being spent on research, and far too many societies keep people with cerebral palsy out of sight, out of mind and out of options.
CBM’s work with CP
CBM has been involved in developing a community parent training strategy for caretakers of children with cerebral palsy piloted in Bangladesh and evaluated in Ghana, in collaboration with the International Centre for Evidence in Disability (at the London London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine). Since then, the trainings –manual ‘Getting to know cerebral palsy’ has been used all over the world, translated in many languages and downloaded from the LSHTM website over 2000 times in about 80 countries (manual downloadable in English, Spanish and French here).
As a result of the use of the manual, CBM assisted in establishing a global community of practice on cerebral palsy, which has become a platform of worldwide sharing and learning with the participation of about 315 members for over 73 countries.
The research evaluated the change in Quality of Life after the participation in the training. Results were shared with a wide stakeholders platform, encompassing DPOs, champion mothers, governmental and non-governmental stakeholders, making their input on recommendations towards change of policies and strategies (full report results & recommendations here).
Inclusive Health initiatives in Ghana have resulted in 8 cerebral palsy groups embedded in existing primary health care programs and their local networks towards rehabilitation services and access to assistive devices such as special chairs and standing frames.
CBM celebrating CP World day
CBM's ‘Getting to Know Cerebral Palsy in Ghana’ programme has been nominated for the World CP Day Award. The impact of CBM and its local partner, the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, on improving the lives of people with cerebral palsy and their families has been highlighted.
CP world-day will be used to advocate for implementation of inclusive policies. The celebration will draw attention towards the Inclusive Education Policy in Ghana through a discussion-forum. This creates a wonderful ground for sharing of experiences with the mothers and interacting with children with cerebral palsy, students and teachers, discussing the barriers to access education and support needed for teachers to facilitate inclusion. Banners and T-shirts will highlight Word CP Theme: ‘I am here, we are here’ translated in Ghana as ‘’We move together; Inclusion now!’’
Good progress has been made towards sensitisation on the condition of cerebral palsy, what CP is and what is CP not; raising awareness on stigma, discrimination, existing beliefs and practices. However, still a lot has to be done. The ratification of the UNCRPD in many of our operational countries has helped to address the need to include children with CP and other neuro-developmental disabilities within governmental policies and strategies. Now it is time to ensure government officials at the local, regional and national level move beyond passing proclamations and put policies into actions based on the CRPD. These ‘’champion mothers’’ and their children with CP have the unique ability, like all of us, to contribute socially, economically or politically, resulting in full social participation and access to individual opportunities for all.Marjolein Meande Baltussen, CBM Inclusive Child Development West Africa Regional Advisor