Cleft Lips and Palate Operations at PIH

by Theckla Gunga – EM TV News, Port Moresby

At least 30 patients with cleft lips and palate will undergo medical surgeries under the Operation of Hope Program in Port Moresby come Sunday.

23 patients, mostly children, will have completed these medical corrections.

The team of medical surgeons from the Operation Of Hope (OOH) arrived in the country last Sunday and has been performing surgeries with medical stuff support from health workers at the Pacific International Hospital under the supervision of Dr. Amyna Sultan.

So far, the youngest patient operated on is a nine-month-old baby, and the oldest a 9-year-old.

Dr Sultan said one operating theatre at PIH is dedicated to this program for the whole week and she has over eight medical officers working with the OOH team.

“PIH has blocked one operating theatre for the surgeries and 12 beds are allocated to the patients and their parents,” Dr. Sultan said.   

Cleft lip or cleft palates are birth defects that occur during the early weeks of pregnancy when a baby’s lip or mouth does not form properly.

In Papua New Guinea on average one out of every eight babies are born with this defect.

According to research conducted by Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, women who smoke during pregnancy or have diabetes are at a higher risk of giving birth to babies with a cleft lip.  

Last year, 38 patients were operated on. This year, over 82 patients registered and 40 were shortlisted for this free medical correction.

President of OOH, Jennifer Trubenbach, said because of the stigma and discrimination associated with cleft lip, Operation of Hope gives priorities to adults to undergo the operations.

“More priorities will be given to adults because of the years of stigma and discriminations that they must have faced since childhood,” Trubenbach said.

These operations were made possible through financial support from various business houses in PNG.

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