- Written by by Queen Munguti for Kenyakidz
Kenyan children born with cleft lip and palate have a chance to get 100 per cent free surgery for the condition provided by the organisation, Smile Train.
“Cleft lip and palate is a birth defect that occurs early in pregnancy,” said Dr Esther Nyambura Njoroge, the Vice President and Regional Director for Africa at Smile Train. “It is a condition whereby a child is born with an opening in the upper lip (cleft lip) while a cleft palate is a condition whereby the roof of a baby’s mouth contains an opening into the nose.
“It can be a hereditary condition but not direct inheritance; it is usually a distant relative like a cousin or grandmother. It can also be due to the mother’s health during pregnancy.”
A pregnant mother’s lack of vitamins or the taking of medication during pregnancy and exposure to environmental toxins like lead can also be a cause.
“In order to avoid the condition in babies pregnant mothers should eat a healthy diet, start taking the required supplements early and only take medicine that their doctor has prescribed,” said Dr Njoroge. “And strictly avoid smoking and drinking alcohol.”
Smile Train, an organization aimed at making children smile, was founded in 2002 and so far they have conducted surgery to approximately 8000 children in the country and 80000 in the continent. “In Kenya, we conduct over 1000 surgeries every year.”
The organization has partnered with various hospitals in the country such as; Gertrude’s hospital, Nyeri county referral hospital, Jordan hospital in Kitui, Nairobi East hospital in Kitui and Embu referral hospital among others to conduct the surgeries.
“Our aim is to conduct surgeries to children before they reach two years old so that they do not undergo the stigma of living with the condition,” she said. “It is a completely treatable condition and it is free.”