More babies born without anal openings - expert

Health workers say the number of babies with the condition, also known as “imperforate anus”, is increasing, especially in the countryside. Photo | File

Experts have urged government to establish paediatric theatres in every regional referral hospital so that doctors can conduct corrective surgeries in cases involving babies who are born without anal openings and other related birth defects.

Health workers say the number of babies with the condition, also known as “imperforate anus”, is increasing, especially in the countryside.

Their abdomen, according to paediatric urologists who have been handing the cases, get distended with gas and could result into perforation.  Others doctors said the anus or rectum may be missing for children with anorectal malformations, blocked by a thin or thick layer of tissue or more narrow than normal.

Dr Maggie Ajiko, a senior consultant paediatric surgeon at Soroti Regional Referral Hospital, said government should establish paediatric theatres because according to her research for her doctoral degree thesis on paediatric surgery in Uganda, in 29 hospitals, there is a huge burden of children born with conditions which need corrective surgeries but due to ignorance of the parents and shortage of paediatric surgeons, many children and parents are suffering quietly.

“The burden of children with different surgical conditions is spread all over the country and it is causing many to drop out of schools. Some are born without anuses, others with hernia, cleft lips, many were suffering quietly until we started holding medical camps,” she told Saturday Monitor in an interview on Wednesday.

She said she treats between 50 and 70 such cases a year.  Dr Ajiko on Tuesday defended her doctoral degree theisis from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.

On what causes the conditions and how they can be treated, Dr Ajiko said sometimes complications develop in children when the body organs are forming in the womb. She explained that it is easy to detect babies without anuses, especially if they do not defecate within 24 hours after birth and this can be corrected by creating an artificial anus, which eventually will adjust and operate normally.

However, Dr Charles Olaro, the director of curative services at the Ministry of Health, said cases of children born without anuses are rare.  He said the condition can be corrected through surgery within the country.

“Children can be born without anuses but such cases are rare. They are given artificial anuses using a process called colostomy. ” he said.