Campaigners are calling for an inquiry into concerns that families have been wrongly accused of inventing or causing illnesses in their children.
Fabricated or Induced Illness (FII) is a rare form of abuse where parents exaggerate or cause their child's medical condition.
Families and charities claim there is a "wave of false allegations".
The Department of Health says that young people will always have symptoms checked by fully-trained staff.
The call is being led by Fiightback – a support group helping families across the UK who have been accused of FII.
Parents like Amy – not her real name – who was forced to live apart from her two-year-old daughter Lauren for almost a year, after she was accused of both inventing her child's illnesses and then poisoning her.
"I felt like my character was assassinated, my family was ripped apart and my child was stolen," she told 5 Live Investigates.
Amy's nightmare began after her daughter Lauren – not her real name – was rushed into hospital after becoming very ill with a suspected infection in February 2018.
It was not the first time Amy had taken her daughter to hospital.
When Lauren was just three months old, she started having spasms. Doctors prescribed anti-epilepsy medication.
She subsequently developed a number of other conditions – the most significant of which was reflux, which meant she had to be fed through a tube.
'Poisoned my daughter'
Fast forward to February 2018, and as Lauren recovered from her illness, doctors took her off the medications she was taking for her pre-existing conditions.
Amy says all Lauren's symptoms disappeared. Within a week she was a normal, healthy child, and was able to eat food.
Amy says the family concluded that side effects from the medication must have been causing her symptoms.
But doctors at the hospital took a different view.
They decided that the only possible explanation was that the symptoms had never existed in the first place – and Amy had invented them.
The hospital's child protection consultant said the illness which had led to Lauren being rushed into hospital had been caused by Amy administering a substance such as a laxative through her feeding tube.
"The consultant was telling me my daughter had never had any infection or illness – the only explanation was I had poisoned my daughter and nearly killed her," Amy says.
The hospital made a child protection referral stating they believed Lauren would be at risk if she was allowed home.
A court decided she should be placed in foster care.
After three months, Lauren was allowed to live with her father in separate accommodation to Amy and her other children. She could only see her daughter under supervision.
"Lauren was really confused about where her brothers and sisters were, where her home was. It's very difficult for a child to keep having to say goodbye when you push them into the arms of a stranger," says Amy.
The family launched a legal bid to get Lauren home.
Experts uncovered medical records which showed hospital staff and others had witnessed Lauren's spasms and vomiting – despite claims Amy had been making them up.
One expert said it was likely that Lauren had suffered from both reflux and adverse behavioural effects as a result of the anti-seizure medication.
But it was an independent report for the court which would prove crucial. It stated Lauren's illness must have been caused by an infection – and the chances of it being caused by a substance being put through her tube was remote.
The case against Amy was abandoned. Lauren came home – almost a year to the day after she had been rushed into hospital.
Fiightback told 5 Live Investigates it now wants a review into the number of FII child protection investigations like Amy's, as well as the FII guidelines for medical and social work staff.
It also wants national and local policy on responses to accusations of FII to be looked at, and new standards set.
Carol Monaghan MP – who has led calls in Parliament to raise awareness of FII – said she would support an inquiry.
A high-level delegation visited Yei River State to intensify Ebola preparedness in Sudan
Juba, 16 July 2019 – On 15 July 2019, a high-level delegation led by Dr Makur Matur Kariom, Undersec..
Juba, 16 July 2019 – On 15 July 2019, a high-level delegation led by Dr Makur Matur Kariom, Undersecretary, Ministry of Health and Mr Alain Noudehou, UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator and comprising Ambassadors of donor countries, heads of United Nations (UN) agencies, , and Representatives of international non-governmental organizations visited Yei town.
The objective of the visit was to among others reassure local authorities of the continued support of the development partners and the one UN in South Sudan; secure sustained commitment of the local authorities to the EVD preparedness efforts and publicize in the national press key messages to the general public regarding Ebola preparedness.
South Sudan is one of the four priority one countries (Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda) prioritized by WHO to enhance preparedness and operational readiness based on the proximity to the outbreak area as well as the capacity to manage Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The risk of transmission of EVD into countries that share borders with DRC, including South Sudan, has been classified as “very high” by WHO. Cases of EVD have recently been confirmed in Uganda, Goma and in Ariwara, a town in DRC located just 70km from the border with South Sudan.
“Diseases such as Ebola dont respect boundaries, race or religion so all must ensure that they work together to prevent its cross border transmission into South Sudan”, said Mr Noudehou. He also reiterated the commitment of the UN to continue to support EVD preparedness in the country under the leadership of WHO.
As a priority one country for EVD preparedness, the Ministry of Health, National Task Force, WHO and partners are implementing the National EVD Preparedness Plan, including vaccinating front-line health workers, educating people about prevention and response measures, conducting screening at multiple locations to help with early detection of cases, training personnel in infection prevention and control as well as being preparing for safe and dignified burial processes if needed.
“Although South Sudan has not confirmed any EVD case, implementation of effective public health measures is critical to manage the risk posed by South Sudans complex humanitarian context, the history of previous (EVD) outbreaks, increasing global travel and proximity to DRC”, said Dr Olushayo Olu, WHO Country Representative to South Sudan.
At the end of the visit, the Governor of the state, the state Health Ministry and partners on the ground reiterated their commitment to intensify key interventions and increase public awareness by providing adequate information through all communication channels, religious and community leaders.
In his closing remarks, the Undersecretary, Dr Makur appreciated WHO and other partners for the strong partnership and support rendered to enhance capacities to effectively implement the International Health Regulations (IHR, 2005) and address the threats of EVD and other infectious diseases.
Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is one of the most fatal and highly infectious diseases known to the world. The on-going outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the second largest outbreak reported globally. As of 13 July 2019, 2 489 confirmed cases and 1 665 deaths have been reported.
WHO is working in Jubek, Gbudue, Tambura, Maridi, Torit, Wau and Yei River states alongside their respective state health ministries and partners to provide strategic public health leadership and support required to ensure that all the high-risk counties are operationally ready and prepared to implement timely and effective EVD risk mitigation, detection, and response measures. (more…)
Winning the hearts of communities fearful of Ebola
Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 24 June 2019 – “You cant take my son away because I know you..
Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 24 June 2019 – “You cant take my son away because I know you will go kill him. You will inject him with Ebola. Thats what everybody here knows.”
This response from an angry father, faced with the possibility that his son would be moved from a local hospital to an Ebola Treatment Centre, reflects the reality of containing an epidemic in an area where folklore, rumour and suspicion of outsiders abound.
For Dr. Ramses Kalumbi, Surveillance Team Leader for the World Health Organization (WHO) in Goma, reassuring his patients and their families is all in a days work. Empathy, patience and compassion are a vital part of the treatment offered by his team of doctors, psychologists and health workers.
The Ebola-affected city of Butembo, where the 27-year-old man has been working as a driver, is 350km away – an eight-hour journey by road. He had returned home to visit his family when he started to feel unwell.
Initial symptoms indicated malaria but his high fever and diarrhoea have rung alarm bells, and now he is terrified. So far, the tiered system of surveillance set up by the government and WHO have kept the disease out of Goma, but nobody can afford to take any chances.
His case came to the attention of a surveillance team combing health facilities and neighbourhoods to identify patients with symptoms that might indicate Ebola infection.
Such cases are quickly sent to the alert centre which deploys investigators to assess the patient and decide whether to authorise a transfer to the nearest Ebola Treatment Centre for blood tests. If the test returns positive, the patient is isolated for treatment and if negative the patient is returned to the initial health facility or to their family to continue previous treatment.
Coupled with distrust of health workers is a belief among many people in Goma that Ebola does not exist.
“They do not have family members in the regions affected by the disease. They are people who have not travelled to see the devastation,” says Bahati Sabimana Faustin, a traditional healer who works in the Bujavu area of Goma.
Support from traditional healers like Faustin who have had training in how to recognise Ebola symptoms play an important role in containing the disease and in encouraging the community to take precautions. (more…)
As post-cyclone resettlement, 200 000 people lack access to health services in Mozambique
Maputo, 21 June 2019 – 94 health facilities damaged or destroyed by Cyclones Idai and Kenneth remain..
Maputo, 21 June 2019 – 94 health facilities damaged or destroyed by Cyclones Idai and Kenneth remain unsafe and 200 000 people who have been resettled live more than 5 km away from a functioning health facility, according to a recent Post-Disaster Needs Assessment and latest data.
“The ongoing relocation of families to new resettlement areas presents new challenges for access to heath,” said Dr Djamila Cabral, WHO Representative in Mozambique. “At the resettlement sites, there is limited access to essential health care, limited or no access to water and sanitary facilities. The fact that some health facilities remain damaged is a huge risk to health.”
Humanitarian partners continue supporting the population affected by Cyclone Idai in Mozambique shifting gradually from emergency to early recovery interventions. Urgent health priorities include delivery of basic health services for the affected population – especially at resettlement sites – building back better, strengthening surveillance and laboratory capacities.
Build back better with safe hospitals
With 14 per cent of the health infrastructure in the affected provinces damaged, there is an urgent need for construction of health facilities in districts that already had few health facilities and are now hosting resettled families.
Strengthen disease surveillance, response and laboratory capacity
Many communities in resettlement sites have no disease surveillance. There is need for health-facility based, event-based and community-based surveillance and to strengthen the national surveillance system to address acute vulnerability in the coming days and weeks.
There is also need to strengthen laboratory capacities at national and provincial levels and in health facilities to ensure timely processing of specimens.
Delivery of health services to affected population
Resumption of health service delivery is in progress with many challenges. Access to power is disrupting the immunization programmes cold chain; damaged infrastructure is a barrier to service delivery; and the settlement of population far from health facilities is overstretching the already weak health system. (more…)
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