Opuwo-The guardian of a six-year-old child from the marginalised Ovahimba community at Otjiningua village in the Kunene Region has appealed for help from Good Samaritans to assist them with medical lotions to alleviate the boy’s skin condition.
The lotion, which costs more than N$80 at local pharmacies, should be applied to the child at least three times a day to prevent it from completely drying out, which could be fatal and may cause blindness.
The schoolgoing child, Uerijameka Muhenje, suffers from a skin condition called lamellar ichthyosis, which he has been suffering from since birth. Lamellar ichthyosis is a condition that causes the skin to form large, dark, plate-like scales over of the body.
Affected individuals may suffer from hair loss, abnormally formed fingernails and excessive dehydration.
The boy has been in Opuwo town since last year under the care of Kunene Region’s Swapo Women Council’s coordinator, Agnes Kahimbona Musaso, after his biological mother who lives in Otjiningua in Epupa Constituency brought him to her.
Musaso said she took the boy to local doctors, who indicated that there was no definite treatment to cure his illness completely. According to the doctors, the only treatment is a body lotion called Extern Emulsifying Ointment B.P, which should be applied to the whole body after bathing at least three times a day.
When the ointment is not administered on the body, the skin becomes extremely dry and this causes excruciating pain to the person afflicted by this condition. The lotion can be found in state pharmacies at times, but when they are out of stock they can only be found at private pharmacies.
“Many times I buy the lotion myself when the state pharmacy is out of stock and I am also paying for his private kindergarten, which is unaffordable to me,” Musaso said.
She is appealing to members of the public to help h buy the lotion or pay the boy’s school fees at a private kindergarten, as the nearest government pre-primary school is about 7 kilometres from their location – a distance that could worsen his condition if he embarks on it by foot every day. Muhenje says he would like to become a medical doctor one day so that he can cure people from various diseases.
* Selma Gumbo is an information officer working for the Ministry of Information & Communication Technology in Kunene Region.