The National Hospital, Abuja will carry out free cleft surgery on no fewer than 100 children with cleft lips and palate to commemorate its “Cleft Week,’’ 2017.
Consultant, Facial Surgeon and Coordinator of the hospital’s Cleft Care Team, Charles Ononiwu, disclosed this on Wednesday during a road walk which is part of activities to mark the week.
The hospital usually marks the week between November 10 and November 17 yearly.
According to Mr Ononiwu, a medical doctor, cleft is refers to children whose lips do not form well, adding that as a result, their lips as well as the roof of their mouth are unable to close.
He said that children with such condition had developmental problems or abnormalities right from womb and not that the health challenge was caused by witches as some people believe in some segments of the society.
Mr Ononiwu also said that the free surgery would be extended to adults with such challenge, but could not undergo surgery earlier in their life due to ignorance or unable to afford the cost.
He said that the hospital would conduct the exercise in collaboration with Smile Train International, an NGO, which specialises in Cleft care worldwide.
The coordinator also said there would be free orthodontic surgery speech therapy and free Ear, Nose and Throat care, ENT, during the period.
Mr Ononiwu explained that the road walk was to create awareness in the general public that, “there is a solution to their health challenges.’’
He appealed to hospitals with any child suffering from cleft to refer them to the National hospital for comprehensive care.
“The hospital has signed an agreement with the Smile Train International and we will treat a minimum of 100 patients, this year, free of charge.
“Once we are through with this number, we will extend it to two years or more.
“We have large number of specialists on the surgical team that will offer comprehensive cleft care and will also manage affected children till they are about 10 to 11 years,” he said.
He added that the free surgery would be carried out between November and December ending.
Also, Consultant Paediatric Surgeon, Emmanuel Ameh, expressed displeasure that some families whose children had cleft hid them at home due to public perception and stigmatisation.
According to him, such children have every opportunity to aspire and live a fulfilled life when they receive comprehensive care.
The theme of the week is “Creating smiles: Restoring hope.’’