Surgeon urges adequate attention to end deaths in babies with cleft

Prof Emmanuel Ameh, Pediatric Surgeon at National Hospital Abuja, has highlighted the need for proper attention and care to end preventable deaths in babies born with a cleft.

Ameh made the call on the sidelines of a two-day national media workshop hosted by Smile Train, the world’s largest slot-focused organization in Abuja.

According to him, the biggest challenge facing cleft treatment in Nigeria is the lack of adequate awareness and first-hand knowledge on how to manage these babies, especially those with breathing difficulties.

“Some of these babies die before they reach the hospital due to malnutrition, lack of proper care, the way they are handled even in tertiary hospitals can damage their health and lead to death.

“One of the things we are trying to do is train staff, especially nurses, community health workers, local birth attendants who in turn will train women on how to identify cases of cleft in newborns and identify those with respiratory problems in good time.

Ameh, also the chief consultant at the hospital, said Smile Train provides basic equipment to ensure that cleft babies breathe well at the point of identification before undergoing surgery.

“Smile Train has also set up a helpline and these people will be trained on how to get help by contacting the helpline,” he said.

Ameh stressed the need for state-level legislation to ensure that state governments invest in cleft care training and equipment for cleft lip and paddle treatments.

“We need to train a lot more staff for the position of nurses and health professionals because we have young people who are interested but do not have support for training,” he added. .

Dr Amina Abubakar, Consultant Plastic Surgeon, University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada, said the stigma, unfounded myths and misinformation around cleft is the reason why patients with cleft lip and paddle suffer.

According to her, Smile Train had done a lot to support, from providing 100% free surgeries to providing training, funding and resources to empower local medical professionals on proper care for cleft patients.

“No child born with a cleft should die in 300 corrective surgeries, I’ve never lost a cleft patient, I can say that’s a 100% guarantee of successful surgeries.

“Most of the time when we go to the communities to raise awareness of the cleft, we find that the natives are unwilling to come forward to their loved ones or loved ones for help due to many traditional beliefs.

“It must stop, the cleft is a birth defect whose causes have not yet been identified and not a curse. It is not caused by the sins of the parents and is corrective, they can live a normal and happy life s ‘they are well managed,’ she added.

Emily Manjeru, the Organization’s Public Relations and Communications Manager, reiterated her commitment to ensuring that babies born with these abnormalities receive proper treatment, regain their voice and confidence and become big winners.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that cleft lip and palate is a gap or cleft in the upper lip or roof of the mouth, which is mostly present from birth. (NAN)

Edited by Ifeyinwa Okonkwo/Isaac Aregbesola

Christine E. Phillips