The Lagos State University Teaching Hospital ( LASUTH ), Ikeja, is collaborating with Rotary International and Alliance for Smiles, a U.S. based NGO to bring succour to patients with cleft lip and palate disorders.
The LASUTH Chief Medical Director, Prof. Wale Oke, made this known at a news conference on Monday in Lagos.
According to Oke, apart from surgery, there will be rehabilitation and speech therapy for the patients.
“Alliance for Smiles and Rotary International have been in Nigeria four times and had operated in three states including Abeokuta, Lagos and Ilorin.
“What they have done is an extension of what they have been doing in the past; what they are about doing is a total package.
“Apart from surgery for the cleft lip and palate, they are also going to extend the service to speech therapy, because some of these children have problems with talking.
“They are going to improve their speech and rehabilitate them so that they can go into the community and perform as well as every other person,’’ he said.
Oke said that cleft lip and palate was a structural problem of the bones of the face which created an opening either in the lip or the palate and caused a lot of difficulties for the patients.
He said: “Breathing can be a problem and they also have social challenges including stigma.’’
Also, a Plastic Surgeon at LASUTH, Dr Omosebi Taiwo, said that the disorder was common.
Taiwo, however, said that there were no statistics to show how common it was, but globally, it was about five in one million births.
“The condition may be higher in our environment; the challenge, however, is that many of these children are hidden.
“It causes friction in the family and babies are done away with,’’ he said.
The surgeon said that the surgeries carried out in the hospital were covered by grants and average Nigerian does not have to pay for it.
Taiwo called on women, who were planning for pregnancy, to start taking their medications, especially folic acid, saying that lack of folate was a predisposing factor to the disorder.
“Awareness and information are necessary for women in general, because cleft lip can occur as early as six weeks of pregnancy,” he said.
A member of the Alliance for Smiles Team, Dr Barbara Fisher, identified lack of resources, including personnel as a major challenge facing cleft care in Nigeria.
Fisher said: “There are experts in LASUTH with the necessary skills; however, mobilising each of them to work together is a challenge.
“Comprehensive multi-disciplinary care is proven to produce better outcomes for children and it needs to be before birth to the time they stop growing.
“We will continue to work on mobilising the experts in order to provide a comprehensive care for patients.’’
A mother, Mrs Alimi Musa, whose child had undergone surgery at the hospital, said she faced a lot of stigma from family members, friends and the public.
Musa said that due to love she had for her baby, she could not throw her baby away, but cared for him.
She urged women whose children have the condition to be courageous and seek help at the appropriate place.
“There is a way to correct the disorder; I am happy I was able to get the surgery done for my baby.
“I faced a lot of challenges including stigma from family members and the society; but with the help of the doctors, I was able to survive it all.
“I urge other women to be strong and take care of their babies, “ Musa said.
The Nation News