By Michael Peter, The Sight News
Abuja: Respite seems to have come for children with Cleft lip and Palate, as the National Hospital Abuja with funding from Smile Train is set to restart the free surgical treatment for patients with the defect.
Recall that the Federal Ministry of Health had over a year ago launched the Rapid Response Initiative to provide free surgical care for patients with Cleft Lip and Palate.
This program under the federal government, could not continue due to some exigencies.
Addressing newsmen during the relaunch of the program, the Chief Medical Director, National Hospital Abuja, JAF Momoh expressed optimism that by attracting donor funding, there was no doubt that the program will not suffer same fate with the federal government’s funded Rapid Response Initiative.
He maintained that Continuous funding is key to achieving sustainability, disclosing the one hundred patients will get the treatment free in the next twelve months.
“Smile Train International has already said that in the next twelve months they are offering free treatment for a hundred patients. With that kind of support we will achieve sustainability. And once we can deliver on that one hundred they might step it up.
“They are also ready to sponsor training of staff in areas that can help us to even empower other hospitals in this regard” he said.
He called on family and friends of patients with the defect to bring them to the hospital to be able to access the free treatment.
In his remark, the Coordinator of the Cleft Care Team at the Hospital, Dr. Charles Ononiwu disclosed that his team had already begun sensitization in rural communities on the availability of the free care at the hospital.
“We were at Mararaba, Nyanya, we met with their leaders, the traditional rulers there; so we are trying as much as possible to spread this message to the grassroot.
“Once they can get to this place they can be sure that one kobo will not be charged them for their complete care.
“Anybody from any part of the country can access the free care as long as the person has cleft lip or palate or has problems relating to cleft lip or palate”.
Also speaking at the event, the Program Assistant, West Africa, Smile Train, Victoria Awazie gave assurance of the sustainability of the program, insisting that the NGO was not considering retracting from the sponsorship.
“We have seventy five partners running in Nigeria its not just only national hospital. And in Nigeria alone we have done 17,285 free quality cleft surgery without problem. We started in Nigeria in 2003 and since then we have been functioning in all the States of the country.
She pointed out that repairing children with Cleft can help in no small way in contributing the economic development of a country, as surgery can enable them live normal lives, like every other child.
Awazie further disclosed that the sponsorship covers all cleft related defection including the provision of free speech therapy and dental correction by orthodontist.