Call to join hands against Cleft Lip

ISLAMABAD Bringing smile to the hopeless faces of children who are suffering from cleft lip and cleft palate, the Pakistan Cleft Lip and Palate Association (PCLAPA) held a reception at the Islamabad Club on Saturday to acknowledge services of the surgeons, doctors and paramedics who come to Pakistan twice a year to carry out surgeries. The British consultant plastic surgeons and Pakistani plastic surgeons from the UK with their surgical team visit Bashir Hospital Gujrat on regular basis to perform surgeries twice a year. This year the 26th free surgery camp was established from October 29 to November 6. A cleft lip is a condition when there is an opening in the upper lip between the mouth and nose and it looks as though there is split in the lip. Whereas a cleft palate occurs when the roof of the mouth has not joined completely. According to independent statistics out of every 570 live births, one is born with cleft lip, cleft palate or both. Considering the population of Pakistan, it sums to a huge number, and there is no organisation dealing with this issue. This motivated the formation of PCLAPA, said Dr Akhtar Rehman President PCLAPA while addressing the gathering. Patients with cleft lips and cleft palate have devastating lives and cleft palate as compared to cleft lip does more harm to newborn he noted. He informed that about 10,000 children with cleft lip and palate are adding to more than 200,000 already present in Pakistan. In Pakistan facilities are not available to teach junior doctors and paramedical staff to deal with such new born babies moreover no training facilities are available for mothers to feed these children, he deplored. Moreover printing materials is also not available to guide parents and communities to deal with the issue, he added. He urged the need to make people aware of the disease and its treatment. The association was established by a group of friends including Dr Aijaz Bashir, Aftab and Dr Akhtar Hussain in 1996. Addressing the gathering Dr Ijaz Bashir said the association started with a mission that every child had equal right to smile and it would provided state-of-the-art plastic surgery facilities for children born with Cleft Lip and Palate to make them smile. Since its establishment, plastic surgery camps are organised twice a year and over the year around 1400 patients suffering from cleft lip and palate complications have been operated he added. The association is providing services of free reconstructive surgery to poor cleft and palate patients from all over Pakistan, he further maintained.

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