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Breaking down the barriers to healthcare for children with special needs

There are a number of barriers to healthcare for children with special needs in rural Eswatini. These barriers include:

  • Distance: Rural areas are often far from hospitals and clinics which can make it difficult for families to access healthcare, especially if they do not have transportation.

  • Cost: Healthcare in Eswatini is not free. This can be a major barrier for families who cannot afford to pay for medical care.

  • Lack of specialized services: There are limited specialized services available for children with special needs in rural Eswatini which means that children may have to travel to urban areas to receive the care they need.

  • Social stigma: In most rural communities there is still a stigma associated with disabilities and this can make it difficult for families to seek out healthcare for their children with special needs.

One such family facing the above mentioned challenges is that of Sinenkosi, a 13-year-old boy from the outskirts of Shewula. Shewula is a rural community not too far from where our clinic is located. Sinenkosi was born with cerebral palsy; a motor disability that affects his ability to move and maintain balance and posture due to poor brain development/damage. Due to his condition, Sinenkosi often experiences seizures and difficulty swallowing. Being the 3rd child to parents who are both unemployed, financial struggles have impeded his ability to access the care he needs; leading his family to simply give him paracetamol whenever he is unwell.

Mother and son
Sinenkosi and his mother

Although his parents continually pour love and attention toward him, his mother has been very transparent about the challenges of raising a child with an impairment and the daily exhaustion that often comes with it. However, that is why we love serving; it allows us to support families such as Sinenkosi’s. Our specially trained nurses Clara and Hlobsile have been visiting this family and during those visits, they help do stretches with Sinenkosi and assist with feeding him. When possible, we also share food parcels to ensure that the family has something to eat. The change we’ve seen in him since we started visiting the family is quite incredible and we will continue to do so.

Sinenkosi with the Bethel Campus Fellowship team

In the grand scheme of things, there are still many challenges to overcome, but there is progress being made in breaking down the barriers to healthcare for children with special needs in rural Lubombo. By working together, we can ensure that all children have access to the healthcare and support that they need, regardless of where they live.

If you are interested in helping us support families such as that of Sinenkosi's, there are a number of ways you can get involved. You can donate to ensure that we can provide the required care and support or you can simply share this blog post in order to help raise awareness on the work we're doing here in Maphiveni.

Remember, a little always goes a long way.

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