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Children receive free cleft lip, palate surgeries in West Pokot

Over 20 children from West Pokot can now comfortably smile after receiving Cleft-Lip and Cleft palate surgeries

The surgeries were conducted free-of-charge by the County Government of West Pokot medics in partnership with the Kenya society of plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgeons during a three-day free reconstructive cleft lip and cleft palate surgery camp at the Kapenguria County Referral Hospital.

The medical Superintendent, Kapenguria County Referral Hospital, Dr.David Karuri, explained to the press that cleft-lip and cleft palate are conditions that occurs when a baby’s lip or mouth does not form fully during pregnancy.

A cleft palate is a gap on the roof of the mouth, while a cleft lip is a tear or a gap in the upper lip and it is as a result of underdevelopment of facial features during pregnancy but can be corrected through a surgery,’’ he urged.

Dr Karuri noted that it is a common birth defect in Kenya where one child in every 1300 births is reported to have cleft lip or cleft palate deformity with many patients relying on such free camps because they cannot afford the over Sh100 000 for surgery and medication of the same.

Dr Arabella Litole, leader of the visiting team during the cleft lip and palate surgery, explained that cleft lip and palate condition is a genetic that has so far, no known specific scientific cause.

“It can be caused by pre-existing medical conditions, exposure to harmful environmental substances, and poor nutrition which affects the health of a developing baby before the birth,” Dr Litole explained.

Children with five kilograms and above were operated, while parents of those with lower weight were advised on proper diet to improve on their weight as they wait for the next free cleft-lip and palate surgeries which will be conducted next year in April.

According to Dr Litole, cleft –lip and palate are treatable and after treatment one is able to live a normal life.

The medic noted that children who grow up without treatment of the condition face stigma and social rejection from peers, adding reconstructive surgery addresses such challenges.

“We offered free surgery, free lab tests, free screening and drugs and I want to urge all parents with children with cleft lip and palate problems to use the opportunity and bring their children for free treatment whenever an opportunity arises,” added Litole.

Lydia Chepkenes, a mother from Chepkobe village within West Pokot County, could not hide her joy after the surgery of her child.

She said that she is very happy to see her son with a new smile and attractive face after the corrective surgery.

Everlyne Chebet, another mother with a child who had a cleft palate condition, thanked the volunteers from the Kenya Society of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons and the Kapenguria County Referral Hospitals doctors for hosting them for free surgery of her child.

Another such free camp is scheduled for April next year and Dr Karuri urged parents with such children to present them for corrective surgery.

By Anthony Melly and Robert Kiprop



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