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Smile Train restates commitment to strengthening surgical cleft care in Nigeria

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Smile Train, an international NGO, has restated its commitment to strengthening surgical cleft care and treatment by providing more training, funding, and resources to empower specialised Nigerian medical practitioners and healthcare givers.

The Senior Programme Manager, Smile Train (West Africa), Victoria Awazie, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sidelines of a stakeholders’ Forum during the 2nd National Surgical, Obstetrics, Anaesthesia, and Nursing Plan for Nigeria (NSOANP) in Abuja.

A cleft occurs when certain body parts and structures do not fuse together during fetal development.

Clefts can involve the lip and/or the roof of the mouth, which is made up of both hard and soft palate.

Around the world, many children with clefts will never receive the reconstructive surgery they need

Awazie said the NGO’s collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health, NSOANP, and all cleft care stakeholders has birthed a lot of implementation programmes that have further made cleft surgery in the country very rewarding.

“Smile Train has sponsored quite a lot of these projects.

“We have trained a lot of medical professionals – doctors going into research, basic life support programmes, and instrument repair programmes.

“We are committed to cleft care. It is a congenital disorder and not a curse or punishment from the gods.

“We offer basic support for cleft surgeries and treatment,” she said.

She identified the lack of awareness leading to stigma and misinformation against innocent children as the biggest challenge militating against cleft treatment.

“A lot of progress has been made in the area of providing children surgical care within the country.

“We have successfully provided children-friendly surgical infrastructures at all care levels.

“This is to provide safe operational theatres for paediatric surgery and anaesthetic care for children.

“So far, we have created 55 operating rooms and theatres across Africa.

“This is because we noticed that there were no operating theatres dedicated to strengthening children’s surgical care.

“In Nigeria, we have four (of such theatres); one at Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), one in Kano, one in Enugu, and another one in Gwagwalada. It’s a Global health model we are building up.

“We are also supporting the training of more health care workers on cleft care and ensuring that the need of every child with cleft and palate disorders are met.

Smile Train is the largest cleft-focused organisation with a model of true sustainability – providing training, funding, and resources to empower local medical professionals in more than 70 countries – to provide 100 per cent free cleft surgery and other forms of essential cleft care in communities.

The stakeholders’ forum of the 2nd National Surgical, Obstetrics, Anaesthesia, and Nursing Plan for Nigeria is a mandate given to every country by the World Health Assembly with the aim of strengthening surgical treatments in different countries.

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