A total of twenty-one children have undergone cleft-lip and palate surgery at the Nyanchwa Adventist Mission Hospital in Kitutu Chache South Sub County, Kisii County this year.
Speaking during the commemoration of World Smile Day at the facility, Team Coordinator and Pediatric Nurse for the Cleft Josephat Bosire said many children in the region suffer from the cleft-lip and palate conditions but their parents do not seek help from health professionals.
“I am asking parents who have hidden their children in homes to come out and bring the children to our facility so that they can be treated for free,” said Bosire.
The Pediatric Nurse noted that cleft lip and palate is caused by side effects of drugs used by pregnant women, could be inherited from the family and could also arise from exposure to radiations such as x-rays during pregnancy.
Bosire urged women to visit the clinic and seek preconception care before conceiving a child.
“In case your child suffers from cleft lip and palate, you can visit our facility in Nyanchwa to get treatment free of charge once the child is 3 months old,” he added.
The reconstructive cleft-lip and palate surgeries are being conducted in partnership with Smile Train Africa – an international children’s charity that supports 100 per cent free cleft repair surgery and comprehensive cleft care for children globally.
Smile Train Africa Programme Manager Joseph Kariuki said children born with cleft lip and palate have a short life span if they remained untreated and could die within a period of one year.
“However, once treated, a child can live a full healthy life. So out of the 1500 children born yearly with cleft lip and palate, Smile Train is able to do between 700-800 surgeries,” Kariuki said.
He noted that the organization builds the capacity of medical personnel through training to enable them to provide safe and high-quality surgeries to patients with the condition.
Kariuki pointed out that lack of awareness has greatly contributed to stigma among people with cleft lip and palate, especially among mothers who are faulted for giving birth to children with birth defects.
Stella Chebet, a resident of Bomet County, said she was very disappointed when she gave birth to a child with cleft lip in December 2020, but a Good Samaritan who visited her gave her contacts of doctors in Eldoret and Kisii towns whom she sought advice from.
“We came here on the 16th of April because it was closer to my home and my child underwent the surgery and I am very happy that my child is healthy and eats well,” she said.
Chebet urged her fellow women who were hiding their children with cleft lip and palate to come out so that they could be helped too.
By Mercy Osongo