Ms Beatrice Adhiambo attends to her 14-year-old daughter at her house in Manyatta estate, Kisumu County.
Though Pheny Atieno appears happy, she has cerebral palsy, a condition that is as a result abnormal brain development often before birth.
It is the most common physical disability in children.
It may come with visual, learning, hearing, speech, epileptic or other impairments.
What worries Ms Adhiambo most is the disappearance of Rivotril – the drug used to manage the condition – from the shelves of public and private hospitals and chemists.
“My daughter is in pain and gets withdrawn if she does not get the medicine. Knowing that I can do nothing to help her is the worst part of it. My eyes are red and aching for for lack of sleep,” the mother of four said.
Rivotril manages convulsions, fever, and nausea.
Ms Judith Okuto, a resident of Migori County with two cerebral palsy children, said the drug began vanishing from hospitals last year.
“If my children fail to get the medicine, they experience convulsions. I’m afraid because the situation can lead to death. Imagine the two of them with convulsions at the same time,” the mother of three said.
“I used to buy the drug in Kisii but can’t find it these days. I tried a private hospital in Kisumu and only found generic drugs but which were very expensive.”
FOCUS ON CORONAVIRUS
Ms Sylvia Mochabo, a Nairobi resident with a special needs child, also says that the drug is no longer readily available.
“I have talked to a representative of the Health ministry. The shortage of the drug has led to suffering. The few hospitals or chemists selling it have increased the price,” she said.
One tablet ordinarily is Sh12 to 18 but now goes for at least Sh23.
Ms Perpetual Kimani, a caregiver in Thika, said children are experiencing prolonged convulsions with shortage of the vital medicine.
“Withdrawal symptoms start as soon as they fail to get the drug. They do not stop and the child must eventually to taken to hospital,” Ms Kimani told the Saturday Nation.
“The acute shortage of the medicine began in February. I bought the last tablets two months ago. The situation has made me depend on the other caregivers.”
Parents and institutions that deal with special needs children are now calling on the government to ensure hospitals have the drug.
Ms Mirriam Mohammed’s daughter has been taking the drug for years to manage her condition but the shortage is taking a toll on her family.
“I last bought the medicine at Uhai Neema Hospital after days of searching. The Ministry of Health should hear the cry of Kenyan mothers,” Mrs Mohammed said.
Ms Lavina Oduor, who runs Heart to Heart Smile organisation in Kisumu County, urged health authorities not to forget other ailments, with focus having shifted to stopping the rapid spread of coronavirus.
“It is really heart breaking for women taking care of these children. The government should intervene as the medicine is no longer available,” Ms Oduor said.
Dr Lawrence Otieno, a pharmacist in Kisumu, said Rivotril is in a group of drugs that is hardly supplied to public hospitals.
“Since Rivotril is not listed among essential drugs, the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency hardly takes it to our public hospitals,” Dr Otieno told the Saturday Nation.
“That may explain the shortage. Jaramogi Odinga Oginga Teaching and Referral, Kisumu County Referral and other top hospitals may order the drug but only under special circumstances.”