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Digicel Foundation provides feeding tubes for children in state care

Published:Friday | May 18, 2012 | 12:00 AM

A review of the cases of death of children in residential homes by the Serious Case Review Panel of the Child Development Agency (CDA) has highlighted that the majority are related to children who suffer from neurodevelopmental disabilities.

A significant number of these children have been diagnosed with cerebral palsy and have associated feeding difficulties. These difficulties lead to nutritional and breathing problems which both contribute to early mortality.

One way to assist these children is through gastronomy feeding tubes, which allow the children to be fed more successfully. This not only fights malnutrition but also improves immune function, increasing both the quality and duration of their lives. Each feeding tube, however, costs approximately $40,000, a significant financial burden for the CDA, which has responsibility for abused, neglected or abandoned children.

Improving lives

In a release yesterday, the Digicel Foundation said it has therefore committed to providing a total of 20 feeding tubes for children diagnosed with cerebral palsy who are in the care of the CDA.

"This represents an investment of $800,000 in improving the lives of our children who are most in need," the foundation said. "The tubes will be inserted by qualified physicians and caregivers will be trained in the use and maintenance of the tubes which will greatly increase the impact of the tubes as they can be reused once they are inserted and cared for properly."

Samantha Chantrelle, executive director of the Digicel Foundation, noted that the foundation was pleased to be able to offer the additional support for these special needs children.

"One of our mandates here at the Digicel Foundation is to raise awareness around and provide resources for our children with special needs," Chantrelle said. "We believe that how a society cares for its most vulnerable citizens reflects our humanity as a nation. These children with special needs, who are in state care, are certainly some of our most vulnerable citizens. They deserve the very best resources we can provide for them, and we are always looking for ways to positively impact their lives."