The 170th inaugural Lecture of the University of Benin took place on the 21st of April, 2016 at the Akin Deko auditorium. The lecture titled “vulnerability of the vulnerable: Conceptions, misconceptions and solutions to neurologic disorders in the Nigerian child” was delivered by Prof. Gabriel E. Ofovwe of the Department of Child health of the University of Benin.
The event started with the National anthem followed by the Uniben Anthem after which the registrar introduced the vice chancellor and his entourage. Present at the event were the vice chancellor, prof FFO Orunwhense, deputy Vice Chancellor (academics), prof. Abiodun Falodun, deputy vice chancellor(administration), prof Ezerunye, deputy vice chancellor(Ekheuan), HRH prof. Aduwa Ogiegban, Registrar, Mrs. Oshodin, Bursar represented by Mr. Ero, Librarian, Mrs. Idiodin, the Provost of College of medical sciences, prof. Iyawe, Host dean, school of medicine, prof. Momoh. Also present at the event were Deans and Directors.
The next item was the introduction of the lecturer of the day which was
carried out by the Vice Chancellor, prof F.F.O Orunwhense. He introduced him as Professor Gabriel E. Ofovwe of the department of child health, University of Benin. The VC gave a brief citation of the lecturer before inviting him to deliver his lecture.
Professor Gabriel Ofovwe of the department of child health delivers his lecture titled “vulnerability of the vulnerable: Conceptions, misconceptions and solutions to neurologic disorders in the Nigerian child”. He introduced his topic by discussing the brain as the head-quarters of life were the spirit and soul reside and he also informed the audience of the purpose of his lecture which according to the professor is to expose the vulnerability of children with neurologic disorder and the various ways individuals and society collectively impact on the well-being of these children. He also promised to present his modest contributions in identifying these issues in the hope that positive change can be achieved.
Here is a summary of the lecture:
EMBRYOLOGY OF THE BRAIN
The ovum is fertilized by one of the millions of spermatozoa and the two cells fuse to become one cell called the zygote. After fertilization, the zygote undergoes successive divisions until a sphere is formed which is called the Murula. When the division gets to the 64cell stage, a cavity appears giving rise to the next stage called the blastocoele and then to the gastrula stage. At the gastrula stage, three distinct layers of the embryo are formed. This occurs between the 14th and 15th day after conception. The first two are the endoderm, which is the area closest to the uterine wall, and the ectoderm, which is the area that faces the uterine cavity. On the 16th day, the third layer, the mesoderm is formed between the endoderm and the ectoderm.
OVERVIEW OF BRIAN DISORDERS IN NIGERIAN CHILDREN
The pattern and prevalence of diseases in any country are important tools required for adequate health planning and allocation of scarce resources especially in developing countries like Nigeria. For disorders of the brain adequate planning and allocation of resources is very important because these disorders are liable to result in mental handicap and poor functional capability. To this extent, children with brain disorders are vulnerable. In Nigeria, there is a plethora of brain disorders affecting children and the pattern and prevalence of these disorders will be best understood when viewed under two categories i.e. “acute” and “chronic” disorders.
Acute brain disorders are often life threatening and constitute a significant proportion of cases of admission of children into hospitals. In Benin city, acute neurologic disorders accounted for 15.6% of all admission of children aged 1 month to 16 years into the children’s emergency room in the university of Benin teaching hospital(Ofovwe, Ibadin,Okunola and Ofoegbu, 2005)
On the other hand, the pattern of chronic brain disorder in children in Nigeria is depicted by the distribution and prevalence of different chronic brain disorders in children in the university of benin teaching hospital.
CONCEPTIONS AND MISCONCEPTIONS OF BRAIN DISORDERS IN CHILDREN
Mr . Vice Chancellor sir, it will be expedient at this point to take a close look at some misconceptions that influence practices, actions and inactions these vulnerable children are subjected to.
Home management of febrile convulsion (FC)
· Affects children aged between 6 months and 5years
· After the age of 5years, these convulsions stop 95% of cases
· The brain does not have any pathology.
The misconceptions also found among the mothers with regards knowledge about the cause of the FC include;
–the cause is spiritual due to witchcraft or evil spirits. This is the basis for facial scarification or marks
–Abnormalities of the spleen expressed as “worms in the spleen”, “nerves fiber in the spleen” and “large and or twisted spleens”. These various descriptions are referred to locally in Edo state as “Ude” and this misconception is one of the basis for abdominal scarification in Edo state.
Concerning treatment during convulsion, the following were elicited from the mothers;
· “pour cold water on the child during convulsion” usually employed by rural mothers.
· “force open the mouth with a spoon, finger or any object that is nearby and handy to prevent choking and for the administration of medicines” by all rural and urban mothers.
· “place the child’s feet close to a fire to prevent stretching” practiced by 30% rural compared to 33% urban mothers.
Constituents of traditional medicines used for home management of convulsion
· Sent leaves
· Palm kernel oil
· Coconut oil
· Crude oil
· Native soap
· Alligator oil
· Onion bulbs
· Urine (both human and cow)
Sleep hygiene and Sleep Disorder in Nigerian children
Sleep is essential to refresh and rejuvenate the body and mind especially the brain functions such as memory and concentration. In children, adequate sleep is required for proper brain development. Poor sleep hygiene practices result in sleep disorders.
Tips for good sleep hygiene for children are listed below:
· Avoid heavy meals before bedtime, children should not also go to bed hungry
· Avoid high stimulating activities such as watching TV and playing video games before going to bed
· Parents should avoid emotional upsets such as scolding at bedtime
· Set a consistent bedtime/wake up time
Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
ADHD is characterized by age-inappropriate level of inattention with or without impulsivity and over-activity or hyperactivity such that the child is unable to function effectively in several settings such as school or home. The affected child may experience the following;
· Difficulty in organizing tasks and activities
· Forgetful in daily activities
· Does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish homework and chores
Autism and Autistic Spectrum Disorders
These are terms which refer to a group of complex disorder of brain development characterized by varying degrees of difficulty in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.
The key feature suggestive of autism is delay in speech and language development, failure to make eye contact when engaged in conversation, repeated and stereotype behavior among others.
Furthermore, these vulnerable children are prone to stigmatization making them more vulnerable.
THE SCHOOL HEALTH PROGRAM
No doubt the children of today will become the adults of tomorrow from among whom the leaders of various sectors of the economy will emerge. Therefore, for a nation to develop appropriately and remain relevant in the community of civilized nations, the education of her children must be paramount and safeguarded.
Consequently, for children to benefit from the educational system, all impediments to learning must be identified early and adequately addressed to ensure they are physically, mentally and emotionally healthy. It is for this reason the school health program (SHP) a component of primary health care was established.
The lecturer concluded his lecture by urging the universities and other necessary bodies to act now by way of educating the society and produce the man power needed to fill the gap in the various areas needed for holistic care of these children. He also emphasized that the government at all levels should provide the infrastructure and facilities for these children.
After delivering his lecture, the lecturer was decorated by the Vice Chancellor and later took a group photograph with members of his immediate family and entertainment of guests followed at the UBTH golf court.