Two years on, mothers of babies born with microcephaly, Andrea Garner
and Puttana Dos Santos have shared the challenges of raising their
infants. However, the support given by the government has made the
coping process easier and they now hope to see their children grow to
their fullest potential.
Since the first reported case of Zika-related microcephaly in 2016,
the Ministry of Public Health became engaged in a strategic plan of
action which seeks to provide support to the mothers of these babies.
As such, the mothers who spoke with the Department of Public
Information (DPI) told of their challenges over the past two years and
highlighted the government’s efforts to provide support.
First up, Andrea Garner, the mother of a two-year-old baby girl, said
that from the beginning, the thought of raising a child with a
disability was not an easy pill to swallow. “No one wishes for their
child to have a disability,” she remarked. Andrea explained that after
giving birth she learnt of the provisions made by the Ministry of
Public Health. She added that though she is now dealing with emotional
issues related to the news of having to raise a child with a
disability she is grateful that she has the psycho-social support
provided by the mental health unit.
“After her birth and knowing that parents can access services free of
cost and there is a great support in terms of the needs of both the
child and the parent, she has been able to access a wide range of
services including rehab services… Even the test that she has to do
and it’s a lot because r she has developmental delays, she gets
seizures and also, she has low vision because of damage to the eye,”
Puttana Dos Santos recounts her experience, raising her son with
microcephaly, thus far, as stressful one. Dos Santos says she has not
has the support of the baby’s father. As a result, she faces financial
challenges since she is currently unemployed. “It’s a little rough but
I love my son … my family, they try their best to brace me and so far,
the government has been helping”
Dos Santos said she too is grateful for the assistance and the
necessary support she has received over the past two years. “I am
getting public assistance, I’m getting help where the doctor’s call,
they are concerned about his growth and development.”
While this is noteworthy, she said there is still the challenge of
keeping up with regular visits to the clinic and the doctor’s office.
“So far, I would say that the government is doing enough but it’s
still hard for me… because my son has to go therapy every Tuesday
and eye clinic, then he has to also attend clinic for them to check
how he is developing in Georgetown, he goes to clinic in Canal No. 1.”
The ministry of Public Health instituted support groups for these
mothers while ensuring that they access public assistance.
Additionally, the child’s growth and development are continually
monitored by doctors in the public health system.