Operation Smile repairs thousands of smiles

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Over a thousand people with cleft lip and palette have been repaired since operation smile started in the country.

Operation Smile Malawi Program Manager Ibrahim Nthalika has confirmed to Capital FM.

Since 2012 the organisation has been providing surgical services to people born with cleft condition.

“We go in the villages to mobilise people so that they should know that the problem they have is reversible.”

A cleft lip is an opening in the upper lip that can extend into the base of the nostril whilst a cleft palate is an opening in the roof of the mouth.

The organisation works with Ministry of Health and uses health facilities across both the referrals of Zomba, Mzuzu, Kamuzu and Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH).

Operation Smile uses physicians and nurses from Malawi and across the world who are brought together in what they call surgical missions or  surgical camps which have been happening in the country once every year .

According to Nthalika, they have now started conducting the surgical camps twice a year.

“Our aim is clear off all grown up cleft lip and cleft palate in the next five years,” he said.

This year, they have so far done one surgical camp with the next one expected on the 18th October at the Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCA).

Nthalika adds, “During our mission we have not less than 200 people. Like the QENCH mission last July we had people between 200 and 300.”

Across the world every three minutes a child is born with cleft. Most people with cleft as well as mothers of infants born with cleft conditions tend to hide from society for fear of segregations.

The condition is a cause for worry especially in infants, as the defect makes it hard for them to nurse causing the mother’s milk to come out though the nostrils, at the same time allowing the infant to suck in air.

Closeup on lips of baby with lip and palate cleft before and after surgery.

The development further makes children born with the condition susceptible to malnutrition because of the difficulty in feeding.

“Because of such malnutrition it becomes difficult for the team to operate on such babies. So we send such patients back and attach them to their respective Health Centres where they are put on therapeutic treatment to bring their health and nutrition levels up to make them fit for surgery,” Nthalika explained.

Operation Smile is therefore calling for people with cleft condition and parents of children with Cleft Lip or Palate to inquire about the repair projects from public health facilities across the country in order to be linked to surgical missions for repairs.





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