A child health expert, Dr Cecilia Ojukwu, has urged parents and caregivers to show adequate care and love to children living with Down syndrome.
Ojukwu, a paediatrician working with the Isolo General Hospital Lagos, gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday.
According to Wikipedia, Down syndrome, also known as trisomy 21, is a genetic disorder caused by the presence of all or part of a third copy of chromosome 21.
”It is a health condition typically associated with physical growth delays, characteristic facial features, short stature and mild to moderate intellectual disability,” he said.
Ojukwu expressed dismay that some parents and caregivers who have children afflicted with Down syndrome would lock them up, denying them the love and care similar to other children.
”My advice to parents or guardians who have Down syndrome children is that they should always show love and give them adequate care.
”Showing love to them will enable them to live and attain their goals in life,” Ojukwu said.
She also called on everyone not to look down on them, stigmatise and ostracise them, because they were also created by God Almighty.
”I strongly believe that if the right and wellbeing of people living with Down syndrome are protected and cared for, it will spur them to achieve what they want in life,” she said.
She urged government at all levels to raise public awareness for the inclusion of Nigerians with Down syndrome in society.
He said that the rights of those with Down syndrome should be similarly protected like those of other citizens.
According to her, ensuring their inclusiveness will save them the burden of becoming liabilities, enable them to succeed in life and be independent to contribute their quota to nation’s development.
Ojukwu said that approximately one in 700 live births was affected by Down syndrome condition.
She enjoined people with disabilities, particularly Down syndrome, to be optimistic irrespective of their health challenges.
She expressed optimism that a day would come when the rights and privileges of those living with disabilities especially Down syndrome, would be fully recognised.
”Governments, stakeholders and the society at large should realise that everybody has equal rights and as a result no one should be left behind.
”People with disabilities generally need to be integrated into every aspects of life to enable them contribute to economic development.
”Regardless of what you are experiencing as a person with disability; do not lose hope, one day your rights will be fully recognised,’’ she said. (NAN)