Doctors offer 20 free cleft lip ops per month 

Source: Doctors offer 20 free cleft lip ops per month | The Herald

Doctors offer 20 free cleft lip ops per month
Parents register their children for cleft lip and palate surgeries to be carried out between January 23 and 27 at Sally Mugabe Children’s Hospital in Harare yesterday. – Picture: Joseph Manditswara.

Tina Musonza-Herald Correspondent

A group of local surgeons, nurses, therapists, nutritionists and other health staff have targeted to operate on at least 20 children living with cleft lip and palate every month in an effort to drive locally-based screening and operation of the abnormalities.

Cleft and lip palate is a childbirth abnormality caused by hereditary inheritance, failure of tissues to get into proper shape when the child is still in the womb yet the society sees it as taboo or caused by witchcraft.

Speaking during a cleft lip and palate screening yesterday, Global Cleft and Cranio-Facial Foundation Maxillofacial surgeon Dr Wayne Manana said they were targeting more local operations to assist children living with cleft lip and palate and bridging the gap left by international operators.

“As Global Cleft and Cranio -Facial Foundation, our mandate is to help children with cleft lip and palate which is the first commonest birth defect in the neck area and the second commonest on other parts of the body. We have been working with other organisations including celebrations who are our biggest partner and we plan to do 20 cases every month if we continue to mobilise the resources that are required. 

“Cleft lip and palate is not a very short operation and it needs time to make sure it’s completed. It can take two-and-a-half hours which means per day we can do 10 cases if we are starting in the morning until the end of the day. 

“For cleft to get an optimal operation you would want to operate as soon as possible within the first year of life so we are trying to reach out where people are and help them get positive results.

“We are looking at partnering with Government hospitals such as Parirenyatwa and we are planning to visit Bulawayo so that we can be able to reach out to some of the children,” said Manana.

He said for the operations international companies through Celebration Health were reaching out, but the cases were rising and needed a collaborative approach to attend to the plight of children living with cleft lip and palate.

Parents expressed their gratitude after they saw a turning point in their lives with some children screened for the first time for clip lip and others for palate as they prepared for the operations.

A Kwekwe resident, Sabina Muzvazva whom her son was screened for palate operation said the help was useful in transforming their children.

“I am happy that my son is getting his last palate operation. He has been improving since the first operation, he can eat, swallow food properly and drink water. It has been difficult before but the first operation has been helpful.

I am a proud mother though my husband and I separated because of my son and he was disowned by his father but I am here,” she said.

Celebration Health director, Mr Freeblessing Murahwa urged people to come early with children for treatment.

“We encourage people to go for screening with their children. It is important to go through screening of heart problems and other illnesses as they might bring complications during operations of children with cleft lip and palate.

“Issue of nutrition is also important, a child with cleft lip and palate faces difficulties in breast-feeding. Normally we have certain characteristics such as the child should weigh 5kg and 3-months-old to go under operations. 

“This helps to build tissues around the operations as tissues grow when they grow and there is high potential that they will not carry the scars for life.” 

He also urged people to help spread awareness around the causes of cleft lip and palate.