Kavita Ramkissoon-Ragoo hopes the recent court ruling that mandates the Ministry of Health to provide specialised healthcare to her son will prompt the authorities to revisit their approach to children suffering from microcephaly caused by the Zika virus.
Ragoo’s son was born in 2017, and diagnosed with microcephaly. He is now six.
On Sunday, Ramkisson-Ragoo told Newsday, she felt the judgment was the first step towards providing a better quality of life for children living with microcephaly.
She is hopeful the Ministry of Health could introduce more systems to care for such children.
“It was very delightful to hear that the court ruled in favour of us and when I say us, I mean I didn’t do this for my son only, we represented all the Zika babies.
“I’m hoping based on the outcome of this matter it will benefit all the microcephaly kids out there too.
“We were grateful for achieving this but I will say the journey continues.
“It’s not a simple ruling where we are rewarded and it’s over. Our Zika babies have lifelong conditions that are incurable, they require many interventions, special aids, medication...I think for me the truest victory would be to wait and see what the government does next.”
Microcephaly is a condition in which a baby’s head is much smaller than expected because it has not developed properly during pregnancy or has stopped growing after birth.
The Zika virus can cause microcephaly and other congenital abnormalities.
Ramkissoon- Ragoo said legal action was initiated nine months after her son was born.
She said while there were qualified staff capable of caring for children with microcephaly, there were additional resources needed to ensure they would receive the best quality of care.
Referring to specialised equipment for physical therapy and feeding, Ragoo said the Government should consider sourcing these in the future.
“We can help them. All of these children inspired me and motivated me to do something to speak up and do something.
“These children require special walkers. They require special bath chairs, chairs that are very expensive and not just the regular wheelchairs.
“The vehicles used to transport them have to be specially outfitted as they grow older, some vehicles may need lifts and so on.
“My son is six years old, and what has the Government done to aid in these children’s progress?”
Ramkissoon- Ragoo said since her son was diagnosed with microcephaly, she and other parents of children with the condition have formed a support group where they share experiences and provide advice.
She said the ruling means other parents are hopeful that the system could accommodate all children living with microcephaly.
Ragoo said her other children, one of whom is preparing to write the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) examination next year, have been very caring to their little brother. She said such support and care were crucial not only within families, but between families to form stronger networks.
“We have a group WhatsApp chat where we talk it out, share our experiences, and I think that is really what has had us going all these years.
“We can’t just do it on our own. We try to support one another.”
While she admits more work must be done in facilitating the differently-abled children, she feels the ruling could go a long way towards not only changing protocols but also mindsets and attitudes.
“Just because these children are mentally and physically challenged, they still have feelings and they can’t express their needs and say what is going on with them. So we are their voices. And I don’t think they should be treated any less than any other child.
“Of course everyone would love to have their children running up and down, going to school and stuff like that. But we always have to remember that we have this special group of children and they shouldn’t be looked at otherwise.”