Cleft lip, palate surgeries free in all hospitals – CS Mailu
Cabinet Secretary for Health Dr Cleophas Mailu has urged patients from less fortunate backgrounds with cleft lip and palate to report to the nearest hospital to access free reconstructive surgeries courtesy of Smile Train.
Speaking at a dinner hosted for the reigning Miss World Mireia Lalaguna, Miss World Chairlady Julia Morley and Miss World Asia Maria Harfanti, Dr Mailu noted that awareness of the availability of free care is essential towards reducing infant mortality among cleft lip and palate patients.
He also shunned regressive beliefs and myths surrounding cleft lip and palate, which have resulted in social stigma against the patients.
“I would like to urge parents with children who have a cleft lip or a cleft palate to report to the nearest medical facility in order to be treated. This is an important step towards reducing the number of children who suffer with a cleft lip or a cleft palate when they are older. This goes a long way in managing the social stigma associated with the congenital deformity,” said Dr Mailu.
On her part, Smile Train Regional Director for Africa noted that the organization focuses on training local doctors to perform cleft repair surgery and comprehensive care in their own communities.
The organization has partnered with various hospitals and surgeons who work on a voluntary basis to create access to treatment across the country. She also thanked the Miss World fraternity for their support in enhancing community awareness through the county beauty queens.
“Training of the personnel boosts the capacity of our healthcare centers to manage the condition at the community level. Unfortunately, not many people are aware that cleft repair surgery can take as little as 45 minutes, and the impact is life-changing for children, families and entire societies across the globe. This is the message County Beauty Queens under Miss World are able to spread to ensure as many patients can access the free medical care,” noted Dr Njoroge.
The dinner was attended by representatives from county governments, surgeons and medical personnel, the private sector and beauty queens. The event also witnessed Miss World 2014 Idah Nguma receive her Ksh1.2 million prize from Miss Lalaguna for winning in the Beauty with a Purpose category during the 2014 competition.
Earlier in the day, the Miss World entourage visited some of the partner hospitals to witness the success achieved in transforming lives of the patients.
In her speech, Miss World chairlady Julia Morley noted that Miss World Global was happy to partner with Smile Train to help make a difference in people’s lives. Ms Morley also congratulated Miss World Kenya 2014 for winning in the Beauty with a Purpose category of the competition and encouraged the beauty queens to use their talents to benefit the community.
“We have seen Beauty with a Purpose make a significant impact in transforming lives of people. This element of the competition enables the lovely Beauty Queens inspire their generation to make a difference at home. Idah impressed the judges with her unwavering zeal to see less children growing past one year of age with cleft lip and palate. This determination is the X factor we look for in the contestants,” said Julia.
Smile Train has been in Kenya since 2002, with active programs since 2008. The organisation has treated close to 7,000 patients in Kenya both children and adults.
Cleft lip and palate is estimated to occur in 1 in 1000 births, in absolute figures this is approximately 1,300 cleft lip and palate births every year in Kenya.
Across the African continent, Smile Train currently works with 223 partner surgeons and 204 partner hospitals. Since inception, Smile Train’s Africa partners have performed more than 74,000 cleft surgeries in 35 countries. East Africa currently represents approximately 40 percent of all Smile Train cleft surgeries in Africa.
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