Free cleft lip, palate surgeries for 14 children

Rumbidzai Ngwenya

FOURTEEN children below the age of two years will tomorrow receive free surgeries for cleft lip and cleft palate at Sally Mugabe Central Hospital, Harare.

The surgeries are funded by Celebration Church, Smile Train and Operation of Hope with a team of seven local surgeons under the banner Global Cleft Lip and Palate, providing free labour.

The 14 from as far as Masvingo were selected during a screening process which happened in Harare yesterday.

Speaking to the Daily News after the screening process yesterday, Maxillo-Facial surgeon Wayne Manana said cleft lip was the second common birth defect after club foot.

“Between 300 and 500 children are born with cleft lip and palate yearly in Zimbabwe.

“And worldwide we have 1 in every 700 children that are born with cleft. So, it might sound like a small number but it means out of every one million children, 10 thousand have cleft lip,” Manana said.

The children who will be operated on tomorrow are just a portion of the backlog caused by the Covid-19 pandemic that the surgeons have to deal with.

“We used to have five camps but because of Covid-19, for the past two years we have only had one camp and we have a backlog.

“This is why Operation of Hope is coming for a whole month in May, traditionally the America-based organisation comes for one week but because of the backlog they have to stay for a whole month.

“For us as local surgeons, we are doing our bit because we realised we cannot wait for international surgeons but instead be part of their team,” he said.

The local surgeons fund themselves to perform the surgeries, with some flying back from other countries for the noble cause.

The surgeons said no affected child should grow into an adult without being afforded the chance to get the life changing surgery.

“This is not for children only, our cause is non-discriminating. Everyone with cleft lip and cleft palate can always come for surgery”.

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