Children with cleft lips and cleft palates will get a chance at a normal live when the Operation Smile team of South Africa (OSSA) and international medical and non-medical volunteers visit Namibia next month to provide free surgery for those in need.
The visit follows after a team of medical and non-medical volunteers conducted a countrywide pre-screening week to assess the need for cleft lip and cleft palate surgery and care in Namibia between, 10 to 16 August last year.
The team visited nine hospitals throughout Namibia and screened a total of 111 patients, of which 40 patients were identified as primary cleft candidates who have not received surgery.
Some patients were previously operated on and either had their lip or palate repaired whereas other had more severe craniofacial deformities.
A team of OSSA volunteer Basic Life Support (BLS) trainers will also work alongside the Ministry of Health and Social Services to provide Namibian healthcare workers with comprehensive training for adult, child and infant victims from 1 to 4 February 2011.
OSSA is a non-profit, volunteer medical services organisation that provides free reconstructive facial surgery, dental care and speech therapy, as well as the necessary after care to children and adults around southern and central Africa with cleft lips and cleft palates.
A cleft lip is a hole in the lip that has caused it not to form fully, while a cleft palate is a hole in the roof of the mouth.
These facial abnormalities are two of the most common severe birth defects in the world and are usually corrected shortly after birth in areas with sufficient access to health care.
However, for most children in more rural or poorer parts of the world, medical treatment is not available. An enormous stigma is attached to both facial deformities resulting in many sufferers to be shunned from society. All this can be changed in 45 minutes with a cleft lip surgery that changes a person’s life forever.
OSSA is part of a global medical non-profit organisation that has, over the past 27 years, treated over 130 000 children worldwide and currently has programmes in over 51 partner countries. Operation Smile provides the infrastructure, supplies, training and expertise to help uplift rural health care and build capacity to ensure that the benefits of Operation Smile continues long after the mission team leaves the hospital.
OSSA will visit the Windhoek Central State Hospital from 6 to 9 February at the Windhoek Central State Hospital.