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Jul 24, 2014

Healthy Living: Medical Mission Works With Inspiration Center

Currently, the Friends of Pediatrics N.G.O. is hosting a highly anticipated medical mission for Belizean children. Over thirty families will be directly impacted by the work of two visiting medical professionals. In tonight’s Healthy Living visited the Inspiration Center to find out more about what this long awaited mission entails.

 

Marleni Cuellar, Reporting
Belizeans have been becoming more aware of the situation of persons living with disabilities. Slowly, we are beginning to see changes that reflect this. When it comes to developmental disabilities there is one particular area where we are lagging behind.

 

Dr. Cecilio Eck, President, Friends of Pediatrics

Cecilio Eck


“When a child is seen by a pediatrician or general physicians and practitioner in the outside setting, even for the well child care visits when they come for their immunizations or when they come for a cough, cold or ear infection, one of the things that we are taught to do is to check their developmental milestone; to see if they’re functioning at the age that they should function. For example, a six-month old should be sitting up; a six-month is not sitting, you worry. A six-month old should be holding an object and transferring it to the other hand; if he or she is not doing that you worry again. It goes as well for language development. At two, four, six months a year, at two years, speech development would occur bout the hear-receptive language and what is expressive language. So for each one of those visits, we go through a check list and if they consistently fail or don’t match up to where they should be, then they are sent for an assessment.”

 

Herein lies the problem: a detailed diagnostic evaluation is usually conducted by a developmental pediatrician and clinical psychologist. Both are specialized fields that we don’t have anyone practicing in Belize. So only the families, who can afford it, travel abroad and seek a diagnosis. Now, a full screening in the United States for example can run into the thousands. And that is the reason why this particular mission is greatly anticipated.

 

Dr. Cecilio Eck

“The hope is with this team is that they will come in, do a formal assessment. Prior to this, I use to do screening tools. So I would screen a baby and at the end of it, I would tell you this kid more than likely has autism, this kid would have ADHD or just the attention deficit portion or this kid might have a learning disability. What these guys do is at the next level; they actually take two to three hours with each child. They put them through a barrage of different tests and at the end; you get what I call a book report which breaks down exactly where their comprehension skills are, their math skills; their reading/expressive language; occupational skills are—what they are able to do on their own or not. And then they will direct them to the specific therapies.”

 

Andrea Garbutt

Dr. Andrea Garbutt, Developmental Pediatrician
“It’s not just about Belize, it’s about many countries—maybe cultural patterns and other things. But failure to be recognized and recognized early; that is one of the most challenging issues. People’s perceptions I hope have changed as time goes by. There are many places where corporal punishment is outlawed; there is no such thing as administering corporal punishment in early child institutions and in other countries, there is none at all across the board. And I think as time evolves, we also need to evolve with the changes and realize that children aren’t bad because they are bad. When children have behavioral issues, the behavior is usually a symptom of something else.”

 

Belizean Andrea Garbutt is a developmental pediatrician; she and Clinical psychologist, Dr. Avril Daly, are in Belize for two weeks carrying out diagnostic evaluations for over thirty children.

 

Marleni Cuellar

“What would you say is the most classified developmental issue that you find?”

 

Dr. Andrea Garbutt

“I think right now, Autism Spectrum Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorders are about the most well-known. Autism has taken off by leaps and bounds. I remember studying; I remember incidents where there was one in three hundred and then we were one in one-fifty and next thing I know we are down to one in a hundred. Right now, we are down to one in sixty-eight; that was in last year. When you look at how quickly those have risen, it is not just a developing country that is concerned about those rates; it is first world countries and we are wondering why is the rate going up so quickly? But go back to what use to happen…children were stereotyped. You didn’t do what you were expected to do; you were lumped up together and ended up in one school like a Stella Maris.”

 

Presently, classifying the type of disorder means identifying the degree of impairment in the child. This is done in a detailed one on one assessment with the doctor.

 

Dr. Andrea Garbutt

“The youngest I’ve seen is two, but Doctor Daly has done the upper age ranges; I’m not sure where she maxed out or the age range that they handled. But definitely because it is pediatrics, we wouldn’t go above eighteen. The main thing we saw were Autism Spectral Disorder; we did see Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder; we did see intellectual disabilities; global developmental delays in the younger kids and then intellectual disabilities in older kids. There were a few oppositional defiant disorders.”

 

What makes this mission timely is that the newly inaugurated Inspiration Center offers some of the care that children with developmental disorders need.

 

Dr. Cecilio Eck

“The inspiration center just came to being less than a year ago, but it has taken on the burden for the kids in Belize to come to a place where they can get their assessments and where therapy can finally be given to them.”

 

Dr. Andrea Garbutt

“And so when you look at it, you have a kid who will not—depending on the severity—may not be a working force in your work force because of that. then you are looking at days loss at school, one for the parent; because if they can’t manage the behaviors at school, the kid is going to be at home and somebody had to take care of the kid. So it might mean that the parent cannot work because they have to watch that child who might be severely impacted; that can be one cause.  Having done that then, that mother or that father might only have one salary entering the household. If you have more than one child again, it impacts the family life for the rest of the kids. Then we’ve lost one of our workers from the work force. And again, days lost from a job, earning potential. And then you have to look at long term care for this person because life expectancy is no shorter than it is for the typical person.”

 

…which is why early intervention is crucial. So if you have questions about your child’s development?…

 

Dr. Cecilio Eck

“Get them to the doc. Most of our doctors, who are well trained, will go through the developmental milestones. They will pick up on the milestones that are lacking. If the parent notices, even at an older age, kids who are having issues with dealing with anger or behavioral issues at school refer them in. They can be seen at the pediatric level. And then later on at the Inspiration Center, they will have their list so that when the team returns, we will have new children to assess.”

 

Friends of Pediatrics hopes to make this medical mission a yearly event.

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