By Chinedu Adonu

There is hope for people with openings or splits in the roof of their mouth and lip to be treated as SmileTrain has promised to offer free comprehensive cleft lip and palate treatment to patients across South East region.

This was made known during a National cleft stakeholders’ forum, South East zone held at National Orthopedic hospital, Enugu with a theme, “planning for sustainable comprehensive cleft care activities”.

Declaring the meeting open, Chief Medical Director of National Orthopedic Hospital, Enugu, Dr Cajethan Nwadinigwe disclosed that there is hope for cleft lip patients in the South East as Smile Train partners with hospitals in South East to give free medical care to them.

He charged the stakeholders across the zone to make use of the opportunity created by the Smoke Train to make more people have access to free comprehensive cleft care.

“It is hoped that this meeting would trace the gain and challenges of multidisciplinary cleft care in the South East region with a view to providing solution to challenges that mitigate against factions that pose stumbling blocks,” he said.

A plastic surgeon at National Orthopedic hospital, Enugu, Dr Ifeanyi Onah speaking during the stakeholders meeting, called on the people of South East to bring any children with cleft lip and palate to benefit from a free comprehensive cleft care programme.

Onah who is the South East Coordinator of the programme, said that the forum was to charge the stakeholders to go to the grassroots and sensitise their people who believe that people with cleft lip have no hope again and bring them for comprehensive care.

“Today is a good day because we are here to discuss how to make people who have cleft lip and palate know of the free comprehensive care which has been available for sometime in the whole of South East and National Orthopedic Hospital and Good Shepherd  Hospital are the hospitals where the free care has been running in Enugu. There is a place where you can access free comprehensive care of cleft lips in each states of the South East Region.

“My message to the stakeholders is that they have been trained on the operation and they have the patients, we want them to let those children know that there is a free care for those with cleft lip. They need not keep those children in the house, need not neglect them or hide in shame. Bring them, we will take care of them. For those that are malnourished, bring them we feed them and those that cannot even speak, there are free speech, those that have problem with dentist, bring them there are free surgical operation for them. All these are packaged by Smile train”, Onah said.

Dr Onah who lamented the low turnout in number of cleft lip patients since the exercise started in 2006, said stakeholders meeting was called because they don’t see much number of patients to benefit, adding that in every 1000 birth, there is tendency of getting one cleft lip/palate issue.

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Also speaking on the challenges of cleft care, a plastic surgeon consultant at Imo state teaching hospital Owerri, Dr Kingsley Opara, called on the parents not to abandon their children with cleft lip but bring them for free comprehensive care at various hospital across south east states where free medical cleft lip care is carried on.

Dr Okpara who regretted that some children with cleft lip are abandoned because of superstitious belief, uncondusive environment in the hospital and other issues, maintained that children with cleft lip and palate are normal children and would live a normal life after a comprehensive treatment.

“Today we had South East stakeholders meeting trying to make cleft lip care sustainable by partnering with Smile Train who have been taking care of cleft lip Patients for over 10 years in South East.

“Children with cleft lip don’t have to be abandoned but to be healed and live normal life as Smile train offer opportunity for free medical care. Some of this changes are doubting and are going to take time to solve but when we take them gradually, we will have it solved. Some of this challenge are superstitious believing that families of children with cleft lip are witch,” he said.


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