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People with neurological diseases need attention too

The Gauteng Department of Health has established centres to ensure comprehensive care and support for children with special needs.

As the global community marked World Autism Awareness Day on April 2, the Gauteng MEC for Health and Wellness, Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko, emphasised the need to establish more centres of excellence.

This will give proper support to children with autism and their families to obtain better health outcomes.

The theme for 2023 is Transforming the narrative: Contributions at home, at work, in the arts and in policymaking, which calls on everyone to accept and support autistic people in society and the workplace.

Statistics indicate one in 160 children is born with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which tends to persist into adolescence and adulthood.

While some people with ASD can live independently, others have severe disabilities and require lifelong care and support.

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“In my interactions with families of children with ASD, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy, it became clear that we need to improve our efforts as government to ensure that the little ones get the best care there is as this improves their chances of leading an independent life.

“It is important that we increase the establishment of centres of excellence at our health facilities so that families can be closer to the services and support needed,” said Nkomo-Ralehoko.

“The Gauteng Department of Health (GDoH) has established centres of excellence to ensure comprehensive care and support for children with special needs.

“These community-based centres of excellence are a one-stop clinic for children with autism, down syndrome, cerebral palsy and other neurological and developmental disorders.”

To ensure effective care and treatment for children with special needs, the centres offer a multidisciplinary approach, provided by role players which include physiotherapy, occupational therapy, dietetics, speech and audiology, psychology, social work, pharmacy, medical officers, family physicians and dental practitioners.

The 28 centres are also a gateway to highly specialised services required by children with special needs, including neurodevelopmental paediatricians, neurologists, orthopaedic surgeons, neurosurgeons and child psychiatrists among others.

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In addition to services rendered to children with special needs, the GDoH has established support groups within health facilities across the province.

Currently, there are 22 support groups for children with special needs, including cerebral palsy. The groups meet once a month and are facilitated by rehabilitation teams.

They teach parents about their children’s condition, how to manage them at home, coping skills and stress management.

This empowers parents with skills to make a difference in their children’s lives.

Parents in Ekurhuleni can access these services at Nokuthela Ngwenya CHC, Tsakane Therapeutic Centre, Daveyton Main Clinic, Emkhathini Clinic, Mary Moodley Clinic, Itireleng Clinic, Crystal Park, Phola Park Clinic and Bertha Gxowa Therapeutic Centre.

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