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The cleft that holds their smiles

Posted by By Sunday Aborisade and Daniel Ighodalo on 2006/08/02 | Views: 409 |

The cleft that holds their smiles


Lagos State Government has begun the rehabilitation of children born with deformities, especially those with mouth deformities.

Lagos State Government has begun the rehabilitation of children born with deformities, especially those with mouth deformities.

Investigations by our correspondents revealed that the traditional belief attached to the cause of the malformation, medically known as cleft lips or palate deformities, and the high cost of treatment have made most parents to resign to fate.

But the state Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, said the pilot scheme of the Cleft/Lip Palate Surgery Programme being carried out at the state’s teaching hospital, was free.

According to him, the exercise would cost the state government about N50million.

He said successful surgeries had been carried out by surgeons in the Ministry of Health on the first set of patients at N500,000 per person.

This amounts to N11million on 21 beneficiaries out of the 100 short-listed for the surgeries.

Giving details about the malformation, the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Tola Kasali, in an interview with our correspondents said the cleft lip or palate deformities are congenital abnormalities with severe psychological impact on the patients.

He gave the cause as a disturbance in the organ genetics at the early stages of pregnancy between the sixth and eighth week of intra-uterine life.

The commissioner said the extent could involve the lip alone, palate alone or lip with palate, which he said could be devastating.

He said the consequences of the deformities on the patient included bizarre facial appearances, inability to feed well from birth leading to malnutrition, ear and chest infections, poor physical/mental development, and speech defects later in life.

Kasali said the government could not wait for corporate organisations before commencing the programme because of the urgent need to restore hope to the hopeless.

He said, “Our joy is that we have been able to give hope to the hopeless. It is not the money that is involved but human lives, which cannot be quantified in terms of money. Before now, they looked like abnormal children, dejected and rejected by the society.”

The commissioner said the state government was ready to collaborate with any firm or non-governmental organisation either in Nigeria or abroad on the corrective surgery programme.

Kasali said no special criteria were adopted for the selection of beneficiaries.

He said more than 60 percent of the patients came from outside the state.

The next surgery will be carried out in November as prospective beneficiaries are now undergoing screening.

He said interested persons needed to follow the instructions as advertised by visiting the nearest government hospital to register.

He said the surgeries would be carried out in all the five divisions of the state namely, Ikeja, Ikorodu, Lagos Island, Epe and Badagry.

He said those who could afford the operation could visit any teaching hospital or private hospitals to carry it out.

His views were corroborated by the founder of the BEARS Foundation, Miss Modupe Ozolua, whose group successfully carried out surgical operations on 36 victims of the 2001 kerosene explosion in Benin, Edo State.

Ozolua believed that non-governmental organisations like BEARS needed moral and financial encouragement from public-spirited individuals and firms in order to make profound impact on the lives of the less-privileged.

A consultant surgeon, Burns and Plastic Surgery, at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, Prof. Samuel Ademulegun, led the all-Nigerian medical team who operated on the 21 patients last week.

He said the team planned to do four corrective surgeries a day, but had to increase the number to seven in order to make appreciable impact during the first round of the surgeries because of the large turn-out of patients.

He said a patient could pay up to N1.5million if the surgery had been carried out elsewhere.

A mechanic from Ondo State, Mr. Lawrence Asubiaro, whose seven-month-old baby was operated upon, said he was always embarrassed by the baby’s deformity.

Mrs. Maria Raji’s case was slightly different from others as her baby, Yetunde, suffered deformity as a result of an infection from measles, which removed her nose due to her low immunity.

Head of Psychology Department at the University of Lagos, Prof. Nwagbo Eze, told our correspondents that children with cleft lip would start having negative feelings and emotions about themselves from the age of five.

He said they lived with the psychological trauma, which made them feel inferior among their peers if nothing was done to correct the deformities.

He however said that they would have a dramatic change in attitude and start to exhibit elevated self pride and arrogance immediately they were out of the theatre and discovered that their deficiencies were gone.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.