72 babies are born with cleft lip and palate deformity annually in PNG

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By Quinton Alomp – EM TV, Port Moresby

Medical experts say that there are about 75 babies born in Papua New Guinea each year who suffer from cleft lip and palate deformity.

Medical experts said that there is little awareness done to bring those living with deformed facial tissues to seek medical attention.

Pacific International Hospital (PIH) Chief Executive Officer, Dr Amyna Sultan said “out of the total number of babies born each year, it is estimated that 75 babies are born with facial deformation.”

She said PNG has only a few medical experts who can carry our surgery but more awareness is still needed to bring those living with incomplete lips and oral defect to seek medical attention.

Buka Hospital Paediatrician, Matthias Tovilu, said they do have records of babies born in hospitals but not those in homes or villages.

He said cleft lip and cleft palate is formed during pregnancies where facial tissues do not join together properly. It occurs when there is not enough tissue in the mouth or lip area, and the tissue that is available does not join together properly.

Today, eight volunteer medical experts from the United States of America launched the ‘Operation of Hope’ in partnership with PIH to carry out surgeries on people living with incomplete facial tissues.

These volunteers have paid their own expenses including airline tickets to help the unfortunate in PNG.

Operation of Hope President, Jennifer Trubenbach, said as of midday they have successully operated three patients.

She said operations on a cleft lip takes up to forty-five minutes while an operation on a palate deformity takes almost two hours.

Fifty patients from all over PNG were registered to undergo operation. 

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