Operation Smile International
Operation Smile International

Operation Smile International, a not-for-profit medical services organisation, has embarked on a five-day reconstructive surgery programme for 160 children and adults born with cleft lip and palate defect, at the Volta Regional Hospital in Ho.

Operation Smile International
Operation Smile International

Operation Smile International provides free reconstructive facial surgery to impoverished children and young adults across the globe.

According to the NGO, no child, in any community should live in pain and isolation caused by a correctable facial deformity.

Dr Opoku Ware Ampomah, Director of the National Burns and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery Centre, at the Korle- Bu Teaching Hospital, briefing the media in Ho over the weekend, said Operation Smile’s collaboration with local authorities aims at treating patients who were unfortunately born with the cleft lip, cleft palate and other related conditions.

He described cleft lip and cleft palate as “when the face is being formed, it forms from various parts and sometimes some do not join together properly, and so it leaves a gap or deformity in the face, however, when it is in the inside is referred to as the cleft palate”.

Dr Ampomah, who doubles as head of the medical surgery team said since the last few days patients have been taken through the screening process, which involves taking vital statistics like age, weight and examination through laboratory investigations; to determine whether they are fit for the surgery or not.

He said they are stigmatised, whilst in some instances their parents and their communities have a perception that they have been cursed.

He observed that such people also have issues with feeding as well as speaking, therefore, ideally children with cleft lip should be repaired within three months of birth.

He said cleft palate victims should have their condition corrected within nine to 18 months, to help develop proper speech.

Speaking to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) Mrs Sabrina Ghiddi, the Regional Manager for West and Southern Africa, Operation Smile International, said cleft lip is common in Ghana and that the NGO would continue to support such victims by providing free surgery.

Dr John Tampori, Medical Director at the Regional Hospital, commended Operation Smile, Ghana for embarking on the free medical surgery.

He said the Hospital has the mandate of providing the health needs of the Region, but obviously do not have all the expertise.

He described the exercise as very impressive considering the entire team of experts who were on board in their large numbers to perform the complicated surgeries within a very short time.

“For us this will be regarded as skills transfer of expertise,” he stated.

Dr Tampori said with statistics of cleft in Ghana, the Region recorded majority of the cases, and so, there is a need to put up measures by partnering with more experts including the Operation Smile team, to collaborate and the problem.

Seventeen year-old Master John Tetevi, a beneficiary of the cleft surgery told the GNA that there was a hole that links his lips and nose, and thus affected his way of speaking, however after series of operations carried out by Operation Smile team the deformity had been repaired at no cost.

Touching on how the cleft affected his social life; he said, people made mockery of him, a situation he explained as making “it very difficult for me to be in school”.

He expressed gratitude to Operation Smile International for putting smiles on the faces of many children and people like him.

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