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Lagos Begins Free Cleft-Lip Correction Exercise

Dr. Jide idris, Commissioner for Health, Lagos State
Dr. Jide idris, Commissioner for Health, Lagos State
No fewer than 100 patients with cleft lip and palate; a congenital facial deformity that leaves a gap or split in either the upper lip or the roof of the mouth will benefit from a nine days reconstructive surgery exercise organized by the Lagos State Government through its Ministry of Health in partnership with Rotary International District 9110 and American-based NGO, Alliance for Smile.

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Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris who disclosed this in Lagos said an update on the on-going exercise which commenced on Monday 16th June, 2014 stated that the gap or split in either the upper lip or the roof of the mouth (palate) occurs when separate areas of the face do not join together properly when a baby is developing during pregnancy.

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“A cleft can lead to feeding, speech and hearing problems, ear infections, dental decay, jaw development problems and psychosocial issues. Although the occurrence within Africa is minimal compared to Asia and other parts of the world, when they do develop they cause a significant degree of limitation in a child’s development, physically and psychologically”.

The Commissioner noted that the Free Cleft Lip and Palate Reconstructive Surgery Programme is one of the programs of the Lagos State administration aimed at improving the health status of the citizens of the state, by making corrective surgery for facial deformities accessible to all, especially the disadvantaged of the society.

“Consequently, the Lagos State Government has taken steps to address these and other health issues of its citizens in order to boost their health status and indirectly improve their productivity, and their economic wellbeing”, he said.

Idris explained that most cleft problems can either be picked up at the routine 20 week scan or soon after birth stressing that the cost of correcting these anomalies can be burdensome for the affected parents, as it involves not only surgical correction but rehabilitative therapy as well.

While outlining efforts made by State Government through the Ministry of Health to offer succor to patients suffering from this deformities, the Commissioner stated that the State Ministry of Health has been organizing free surgeries for the repair of this defect since 2006 where over 500 children and young adults have had their deformity corrected.

He added that the Lagos State Government is aware that the challenges of healthcare globally are becoming more challenging due to the increased incidence of non-communicable diseases and healthcare issues related with aging, obesity and the growing population size as well as the increased cost of healthcare spending, globally stressing that “one of the ways to tackle these challenges is through partnership programs and initiatives, of which this is one”.

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“This is why the Lagos State Ministry of Health is partnering with Rotary International (District 9110), and the American-based NGO, Alliance for Smile in offering FREE surgical repair of these clefts for its citizens. The program commenced last week with a free screening of all patients that came forward in the preceding weeks to register for the program, and thereafter a follow up screening was done on Monday, June 16”, Idris stated.

He explained that the exercise commenced last week is the 12th outing the Ministry of Health is embarking on adding that a free screening was conducted for all patients that came forward in the preceding weeks to register for the program, and thereafter a follow up screening was done on Monday 16th June, 2014.

The Commissioner noted that the age of eligibility for the surgical intervention is between three months and 15 years stressing that surgeries to correct the defect commenced on Tuesday, June 17 and is expected to continue till June 25, 2014 at the Critical Care Unit (CCU) of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja.

Idris further explained that several patients have been screened since the commencement of the programme adding that 66 patients have so far been prepared for surgery and the number is increasing daily.

He noted a total of 19 patients have been treated since the commencement the surgical intervention and that they are presently doing well stressing that a total of 100 patients are expected to benefit from the exercise at no cost.

“The Lagos State Government is committed to improving the health status of its citizens by ensuring access to affordable, qualitative services and ensuring best practices. This is once again exemplified through this partnership with Rotary International and the Alliance for Smile”, the Commissioner stated.

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