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24.10.2005 Health

KATH to embark on cleft surgery on children

By GNA
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Kumasi, Oct 24, GNA - The Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), in collaboration with a US-based medical charity, Children Surgery International will, from November 04 to 12, operate children with cleft lips and palate deformities.

Cleft refers to children born with split lips and palates which, if not corrected through surgery, often affects their feeding, speech and survival abilities and might even lead to their death. This is contained in a statement released in Kumasi at the weekend by Prof Peter Donkor of the Directorate of Surgery at KATH, the Co-ordinator of the programme.

He said during the weeklong operation, scores of cleft babies would be operated upon to have their split lips and deformed palates repaired.

The beneficiaries would only pay a token fee for the services received.

Prof Donkor said in spite of the fact that cleft could be corrected through surgery, most parents abandon their babies due to the stigma attach to having such "abnormal" babies.

"Some even deem such children to be cursed or demonic and are thus abandoned to die. Those who are not abandoned also face serious feeding, speech and survival difficulties due to their split lips and gaping holes between the mouth and the nose".

Prof Donkor said it is to bring smiles back on the faces of affected children and their parents that KATH established a cleft clinic about two years ago to cater for the surgical needs of such babies. He said several babies have been operated upon to correct their deformities at the clinic but a lot more babies have not been able to benefit partly as a result of the cost involved.

Dr Oti Acheampong, a member of the local planning committee, said for the second year running KATH, with the support of the Children Surgery International, was providing a near-free service to cleft babies during the mission and appealed to parents with such babies to take advantage to correct the deformities of their children.

He appealed to regional and district directorates of health services, hospitals and district assemblies throughout the country to encourage parents of such babies to take advantage of the programme.

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