An American based Non Governmental Organisation, (NGO) SmileTrain, has urged people with congenital abnormalities such as cleft lips and palate in Kwara, to visit the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH) for free surgery.

Prof Ismail Adigun, a Consultant Palstic Surgeon with the UITH, who spoke with newsmen on Tuesday during an awareness campaign, explained that SmileTrain is given assistance to indigenous children born with congenital deformities.

According to him, SmileTrain has been a donor organisation that has been supporting cleft lip surgery in Nigeria.

He disclosed that it costs around $400 dollars per patient to perform surgery for cleft lip and palate.

Prof Adigun further explained that the awareness campaign, is to sensitize people around the state, to bring their children and family members with cleft lip and palate for corrective surgery.

He said: “Cleft lip and palate is a congenital abnormalities and is no respecter of anybody, and these children are not witches as erroneously believed by others.

He observed that there is no reliable known cause for cleft lips and palate, but noted that environment and genetics, are sometimes attributed as causative factor.

Also speaking at the sideline of the campaign, Mrs Victoria Awazie, Program Manager, for SmileTrain, West Africa, lamented that many children with deformities have been killed because of stigma.

According to her, SmileTrain is the largest cleft repair organisation, located in 87 countries across the world.

Awazie hinted that getting to remote rural communities to get to patients are their major challenges, while reiterating that children with cleft lips are not cursed by the gods, but a congenital deformity from birth.

The Program Manager for SmileTrain noted that the organisation in addition, gives comprehensive care to patients including orthodontic for repair of teeth, speech training and area of malnourishment.

Dr Abdulrasheed Nasir, the Program Coordinator, and Paediatrician with UITH, noted that the government cannot do everything, in area of health, which he said, has translated to the disparity in healthcare.

“Fortunately there are private organisation that can provide succour to cleft lip and palate in the country.

“Literacy is very important for every child in the Nigeria and children with cleft lips face stigma most times, including being hidden by their parents and prevented from going to school.

“But with this surgical interventions, such children have the benefit of surgery which will improve their lives,” he said.

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