Wife of the Anambra State Governor, Dr Nonye Soludo in collaboration with Smile Train organisation, provided free reconstructive surgeries to children born with cleft lips and palate across the state.
She said the free surgeries was to give every child with a cleft lip and palate the opportunity to reclaim their dignity.
Soludo who spoke on Saturday at the General Hospital, Umueri in Anambra East Local Government Area of the state regretted that most mothers got confused after giving birth to children with such kind of deformities.
She said: “When it comes to mothers and children in the state, I do not joke with them. Most of these mothers are confused after giving birth to children with this kind of deformities.
“And since it is something we can solve, we decided partner with Smile Train International, an NGO that funds cleft reconstruction surgeries, to help these families.
“I urge pregnant women to eat healthy and attend antenatal to prevent giving birth to babies with deformities,” she said.
Also speaking, Prof. Titus Chukwuanukwu, a Consultant Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, described cleft as a congenital anomaly that a baby is born with.
Chukwuanukwu, also the Director, Smile Train in Anambra, said children with cleft lip become malnourished and suffered a lot of ailments because they often have difficulty in sucking the breast, feeding and speaking.
He identified lack of awareness, stigmatisation, financial constraints and unfounded myths and misinformation as barriers to cleft treatment and care in the country.
“Cleft lip or palate is not a life-threatening defect. It is not a curse, it is not caused by evil spirit and it is not the fault of the parents of such child.
“We are having this free surgery outreach to create awareness and for people to see the marvelous transformation after the surgery.
“This will motivate those hiding their children at home to come out and seek medical help.
“If those children grow without reconstructive surgeries, they become withdrawn, their education and social life will be hampered. Some of them even become depressed, aggressive and feel hopeless, ” he said.
The Consultant says five children with cleft lip and palate will undergo surgeries for a start and as time goes on, more children would benefit from the free surgical outreach.
He said the average cost for a cleft lip reconstructive surgery is about N500000 to N600,000, adding that they would be performing the surgery and after care treatment for the patients free.