It is no question that equal access to optimal health care facilities and rehab services continue to be lacking in Kuwait as experienced by countless patients and their caretakers who are in dire need of continuous therapeutic treatments, especially children.
Although awareness on health care and the importance of rehabilitation for children has increased amongst the general public as well as the government and corporations, the health sector has not quite achieved its potential best in providing the much needed outlets and services of rehabilitation. What available common services there are, however, could be financially costly for caretakers therefore hindering an optimal therapeutic process for children with disabilities.
Dr. Elham Al-Hamdan, President and Medical Director of Fawzia Sultan Rehabilitation Institute (FSRI), says that more and more children are now seeking rehab and the services are lacking, not accessible to all segments of society equally, and/or are expensive. Not only are the services expensive on an hourly basis but also on an ongoing basis.
“It is estimated that 4000 children every year will either be born with or will develop a disability in Kuwait, based on the population we have. However, there is a shortage of readily accessible and comprehensive rehabilitation services in all aspects and that is concerning especially since children with severe mental and physical disabilities who need ongoing daily rehabilitation,“ added Dr. Al-Hamdan.
Disability can be defined as any physical or mental condition that limits a person’s ability to perform activities of daily living. Disabilities range from mild to severe. What rehabilitation does, therefore, is restore a person’s ability to function in society and his/her daily life.
In children, the commonest condition that is incurred is cerebral palsy, which is a disorder of movement, muscle tone and posture that is caused by a defect in the immature brain during development, Dr. Al-Hamdan says.
“In most cases, cerebral palsy occurs during birth. Therefore the child requires ongoing rehabilitation and physiotherapy, such as occupational therapy which helps in performing daily activities with assistance devices. Other services, such as psychological services, also contribute to the care offering to maximize the patients’ well-being holistically,” she continued.
The only readily accessible rehabilitation center in Kuwait that belongs to the government is faced with many challenges. Not only is it overloaded, it doesn’t have a multidisciplinary team working together and is only allowed to take patients from specific governorates.
There are no coordinated services for comprehensive therapeutic treatments; therefore the government needs to invest in more rehab centers. Therapists and rehab professionals in Kuwait are also in need of further education and training to develop the therapeutic services.
Dr. Al-Hamdan believes that all stakeholders should be involved in improving and developing rehabilitation and health care in the country — the public, the government, the patients as well as the private sector . Ideally all services and therapists should be available in one location to provide the optimal rehabilitation possible for patients.
“In FSRI, we provide mental and physical rehabilitation through several specialties that all work together to rehabilitate a patient. These include physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy and psychology. There are other specialties, such as prosthetics and amputation technologies, that we don’t offer yet but hope to in the future,” she added.
In that regard the FSRI is working on acquiring and developing a site for a new children’s clinic, has garnered the professional support of international specialist universities, has lowered its rates through various fee packages and hired specialist pediatric therapists to provide comprehensive care to children in need. Staff therapists are receiving further trainings abroad through the Kuwait Society for Student Support and individual private donors.
Meanwhile, the annual 10 kilometer charity race organized by FSRI and Agility, RunQ8, will be held on Saturday November 30, in support of health initiatives and raising health awareness. RunQ8 encourages socially responsible engagement in the community to improve preventative healthcare, standards for treatment as well as equal access to medical care.
In its third year, RunQ8 is supporting children’s rehabilitation through the new FSRI Children’s Rehabilitation Clinic. Previously, RunQ8 successfully supported eye health and road and traffic safety community-wide projects in Kuwait.
“The RunQ8 aims to raise awareness and generate funds for the clinic. Almost all the proceeds from the race will go into this program. It is estimated that over 1,000 people will participate in the race this year,” concluded Dr. Al-Hamdan.
RunQ8 is now open for registration. To register, please visit: www.runq8.org
By Nihal Sharaf