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Children with cleft lips and cleft palates to smile in Kakamega

Over 50 children suffering from cleft lips and cleft palates are set to undergo free surgery at the Kakamega County Referral Hospital from November 8-12 this year.

Speaking to Kenya News Agency ahead of the launch at the Kakamega County Hospital, the National chair of the Kenya Progressive Nurses Association Michael Nyongesa appealed to parents with children suffering from the deformity to bring them forth and register for the free surgery.

He said the cost of one surgery was over Sh250, 000 which was way above the reach of many vulnerable families, reason why they carry out the free reconstructive surgeries annually across the country.

“We are aware that many families cannot afford the cost of these reconstructive surgeries that cost over Sh250, 000 and thus why as a professional body we carry out this Corporate Social Responsibility every year since 2013 to help,” he added.

“We are concerned that some children are hidden in homes, others view this as a curse while many of the children suffer from stigma yet this condition can be corrected through surgery,” he added.

“As a professional body, we thought we could give something back to the community and we thought about the clefts. They face stigmatization and are hidden from the public. They cannot feed well, they cannot speak well and they end up with malnutrition and speech problems and we thought as an institution to support such a group,” he added.

Nyongesa noted that it targets children from the age of six weeks to adults, adding that 40 clients have already been registered.

He sent out an assurance that even if the number of clients exceeds their target of 50, they will endeavor to treat all of them in the subsequent year, noting that they usually receive clients from across the country.

Nyongesa said the free screening and surgeries would be conducted by a team of surgeons from the Kenya Society of Plastic Surgeon, Kenya Progressive Nurses Association in partnership with the Kakamega County Referral Hospital.

“The reconstructive surgeries are sponsored by Smiles Train, an international children’s charity in partnership with the Kenya Professional Nurses Association and the Kakamega County Referral Hospital,” he said.

Nyongesa said since inception of the CSR in 2013, they have performed over 400 reconstructive surgeries, adding that every child with cleft lips and palate needs more than a surgery alone, they also need speech therapy and nutritional support.

“We anticipate to operate on 50 persons with cleft lips and palates. We can do about 10-15 surgeries daily if we start operating at 0600 hours and end at 2200 hours,” he noted.

The free surgeries started off in 2013 and have been going on yearly. The first of the surgeries was in Kakamega county and over 400 successful surgeries have been done since it started.

Those interested in the surgery should contact Nancy Luyieko on the number 0723479568.

Nyongesa said the surgeries would precede the annual one week scientific conference slated to take place at the Bishop Stam Pastoral Centre in Kakamega from the 15th of November this year.

By George Kaiga and Erdly Agona

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