‘Personally, of all the (OI) conditions that I have seen, Afia Ayeyi is the only one that has survived’. That was the statement from a Paediatrician at the Cape Coast Teaching Hospital that attracted a deafening applause at the launch of OI Ghana on 6th May, 2017. In his presentation, Dr Steven Laryea cleared the misconceptions associated with the OI conditions in Africa and added that based on available statistics, OI is a rare condition, but there are survivors.
“Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) or Brittle Bone Disease is a genetic disorder that makes the bones of an individual break easily with little trauma or without any apparent reason.”
The first of its kind in Ghana, the launch of the foundation drew very important stakeholders from the health sector, religious, academia and civil society organisations across the country to Cape Coast-Ghana. In attendance were the Central Regional Minister, the Regional Health Director, Ghana Health Service, the Pro Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast, Provost of the College of Health and Allied Sciences, the Dean of the School of Medical Sciences, the head of the paediatric unit, the Cape Coast Teaching Hospital and many more.
The program started with a mammoth float that attracted the attention of market women and the ordinary person on the streets of Cape Coast, the central region of Ghana. The program also saw parents with children with OI coming all over Ghana, including a parent from Nigeria with her OI child. Branded OI T shirt were distributed freely to the over 200 participants who joined the celebration on 6th May, 2017 from as early as 8:30am to 12 noon.
At the launch, glowing tributes were paid to parents and caregivers who assist people with such conditions. These heroes, according to Dr Baidoo, an orthopaedic surgeon, sacrifice their comfort to ensure the survival of these people.The provost of the College of Health and Allied Sciences, University of Cape Coast, Prof Harold Steward Amonoo-Kuofie, lauded the decision by Mr and Mrs Yiadom- Boakye to launch an annual celebration of OI in Ghana.
Justina Yiadom-Boakye held the tearful participants spellbound as she narrated her ordeals and the secret tears she shared in the process of handling her OI condition child; Afia Ayeyi Yiadom-Boakye . She admitted the challenges in both the health and education sectors of Ghana as no school was ready to take the little girl on at school. The bleak experience in the health sector sounded more worrying as medical doctors advised her to end the baby’s life.
The Regional Minister, the political head of the region said the nation owes it a duty to support families with affected children and pledged the government’s unwavering support for such people through policy formulation and further added that the bold step by the affected couple was in sync with Ghana government’s agenda of transforming the health sector to cater for such conditions.
Detailing the objectives of the foundation, Mrs Justina Yiadom-Boakye, the founder of OI-Ghana called for government and individual support for people with such conditions so that they could live their full potential. She challenged the ministry for women, children and social protection, the health and education ministries to rise up to the challenges of the 21st century to safeguard the welfare of the citizenry.
She sent a clear message to parents all over Africa, especially in countries where such children are banished to desist from such evil practises and called on stakeholders to make a difference by creating the awareness on the opportunities available to OI children.