Free cleft lip and palate surgery underway in Ridge Hospital

The Ridge Hospital is carrying on with the two-week free cleft lip and cleft palate surgery organised to bring smiles back on the faces of those afflicted by the physical deformities.

The exercise, which finished its first week with 40 successful surgeries, has entered the second week with no patients to attend to with the 25 team of surgeons almost idling around.

The humanitarian exercise was organised together with Rotary Club of Accra East with support from the Alliance for Smiles, a non for profit organistion from San Francisco in the United States.

Speaking to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) on Monday, Mr Moses Aryee Coordinator of the Project from Rotary Club of Accra West said out of the 80 people who were screened with the deformities a week ago, only 50 where qualified based on their conditions and successfully went through the surgery.

The people who were screened were between 10 months to 55 years and received free accommodation, food and transportation from and back to their various homes in the regions.

“It is very unfortunate… we are not getting many people to offer them free services,” he said.

Ms Babara Fisher, Mission Director of Alliance for Smiles told the GNA that cleft lips or palates disease affected children resulting in deformity or holes in their mouths or palates and the upper parts of the gum.

This, she said were birth defects in the tissues of the mouth or lips which do not form properly during the foetal development.

She noted that this was the third time of the visit of the team to Ghana since April 2010.

“People come with the hope of being helped but not with the courage. Children come very anxious whilst parents also come with all the hope that smiles will come back to the faces of their children.”

Mrs Fisher said one out of 800 live births in Ghana are born with a cleft lip or palate in Ghana. However, there was only one treatment centre in Ghana at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi, which was only able to treat about 150 cases a year.

She commended the Ridge Hospital and the Rotary Club of Accra-West and East for the tremendous support they had given the team since they arrived in Ghana, saying “It is our first mission in Africa and the support is very commendable.”

Dr Obeng Apori, Medical Director of the Hospital, expressed his gratitude to the team and asked them to train some Ghanaian surgeons to enable them to perform the surgery since it would not benefit Ghana alone but also other neighbouring African countries.

A cleft palate is a split or opening in the roof of the mouth and can involve the hard palate (the bony front portion of the roof of the mouth), and/or the soft palate (the soft back portion of the roof of the mouth).

Cleft lip and cleft palate can occur on one or both sides of the mouth because the lip and the palate develop separately. It is possible to have a cleft lip without a cleft palate, a cleft palate without a cleft lip, or both a cleft lip and cleft palate together.

This can affect the way the child’s face looks. It can also lead to problems with eating, talking and ear infections.

Treatment usually is surgery to close the lip and palate. Doctors often do the surgery in several stages. Usually the first surgery is during the baby’s first year. With treatment, most children with cleft lip or palate do well. GNA

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