In a bid to make families who has cleft lip and palate children to smile again, Good Smile Africa Advocacy Initiative(GSAAI) and Smile Train, Non Governmental organizations (NGO) in partnership with the Delta State Government, has performed free surgery for over 17 cleft lip and palate patients in Delta State.
Dr. Osodin Timothy Eromose, A volunteer Cleft Surgeon with Smile Train International and Chief Executive Officer of Good Smile Africa Advocacy Initiative said cleft lips/palate are congenital malformations which can be due to genetic abnormally.
Fielding questions from newsmen recently at General Hospital Warri, venue of a three day free surgery for cleft lip and palate patients , Dr. Osodin Timothy Eromose stated that “Such malformations are interplay between environment and Gene-inherited from parents while the environmental causes can be smoking, taking alcohol during pregnancy, or late pregnancy at above 40 years.
According to the Senior Consultant, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Abuja, “This congenital malformation starts as early as the tenth week of pregnancy and a child born that way will remain deformed until the condition is corrected surgically, otherwise it persist as long as the child lives.
“For treatment, we treat a child for the lip when he/she is three months old and above. There is no age limit to treatment as long as the patient can withstand surgery. Then for the palate patients, they are treated before they are eighteen/twenty-four months old. This timing of repairs is such that the speech will not be affected.
“However most people have the erroneous believe that cleft lip and palate children are possessed by evil spirits or their parents may have committed a heinous offence and because of this wrong belief , the cleft children and their parents are stigmatized. They cannot socialize, go to school, learn a skill or trade, they are faced with social discriminations. The parents are being laughed at daily for faults that is not theirs. No mother will be happy living in that condition.
“They need our encouragement and every necessary support towards them to seek experts advise on the condition of their babies. If these children are not treated, eventually they will become a burden to their families and they will also become a liability to the society whether you like it or not. Some societies actually kill these children because they believe that they are bad omen to them. I want to emphatically say that such belief is not true.
“It is also interesting to note that the cleft condition is not peculiar to Africans or Nigerians alone. it is more common among the whites and Asian. The statistics is such that out of every 700-1000 birth, a cleft lip or palate person is born. Having a child with cleft lip or pilate shouldn’t lead to stigmatization.
‘”Good Smile Africa Advocacy is giving hope to these children and their families who as it where, are hopeless in our environment. The society too should learn not to stigmatize or discriminate against these ones.” He said.
Mrs. Patience Iboyi, mother of 18 years old Toju Mebije was ecstatic about the success of her son’s surgery. According to her, “it has been a burden in my heart and I have just been believing God that one day, he will make a way and I really thank God that today my prayer point of eighteen years has been answered.
“I don’t know how to explain my joy but I give God all the glory. As for the doctors God will bless them, they will eat the fruit of their labour, they will live long, they will never labour in vain. They understood our pain and decided to offer free surgeries, to change the world of children and families who could not smile before, whatever be their heart desires, before they pray, God Almighty will grant them their desires.”