A team of Chinese surgeons will be arriving from Beijing to operate upon 40 children who were born with cleft lip and palate.
The surgeries will be conducted in Islamabad from March 21 to 26 in a medical camp at a local hospital. The procedures will be carried out free of charge. Pakistani doctors and paramedics will be aiding the Chinese doctors’ team.
It will be the first time that the Chinese surgeons have offered their services to provide free healthcare to the children with cleft lip and palate. The children were identified by screening camps and most belong to poor families who cannot afford the operations otherwise.
The afflicted children came from Balochistan, Sindh, areas of Swabi, Dargai, Karak and Haripur in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and from Taxila and Mianwali in Punjab.
Out of every 530 live births, one Pakistani child is born with a cleft lip or a cleft palate, or both. An estimated 10,000 children are born with these deformities each year in Pakistan, and appallingly, 200,000 have not been operated upon as yet.
Cleft lip and palate, a congenital condition, can lead to speech, behavioral and psychological complications if the child is not treated at an early age. Problems in eating or feeding, ear infections, hearing loss, speech impairment, dental issues and social isolation are some associated issues.
Islamabad Cleft Lip and Palate Association (ICLAPA) has been providing free medical services to affected children since 2004 with the support of philanthropists. The surgeries are carried out using facilities of different hospitals.
ICLAPA organizes free screening and surgery camps 3-4 times each year. Presently about five patients are being treated every month by the ICLAPA team. ICLAPA’s Board of Trustees is also working on a project for a dedicated and modern hospital for cleft lip and palate patients.