Nigerians Cautioned Against Killing, Stigmatising Children With Cleft Lip, Palate

Nigerians have been called upon not stigmatize or kill children with cleft lip and cleft palate as the condition can be treated and those with it can live a normal life like others.

President of the Nigerian Association For Cleft, Lip And Palate, Prof. Fadekemi Oginni made the call on Wednesday while addressing newsmen during the fifth annual scientific conference organized by the association in Kano.

Speaking on the theme of the conference, “Standardising Cleft Care In Nigeria” Oginni explained that the association aimed at improving the quality of life for individuals affected with cleft lip and cleft palate.

“To Nigerians I will say, those who have children born with cleft lip and cleft palate, those who see individuals with cleft lip and palate should not stigmatise them because they can be cared for and they can live a normal life.

“I will also call on well-meaning Nigerians who have the means to support cleft care to approach the Nigerian Association of Cleft Lip and Palates and ask for how they might be able to help provide care for these children.

“Don’t kill children with cleft lip and palate, don’t stigmatise children with cleft, lip and palate, bring them out for comprehensive care and they can live a normal life,” she stated.

Prof Oginni also assured of the objective of the association in ensuring that persons affected with cleft lip and palate can access standard treatment anywhere across the country.

“What we hope to achieve at the end of the event is to bring every cleft lip and palate service provider to a point where we are able to provide quality care that can be comparable across the nation.

“So, that you are in one part of the country and I am on another part of the country does not mean that we will receive different levels of care. We want care to be uniform, we want it standardised, with everybody doing exactly the same thing and offering high quality care to all patients across the nation,” Oginni said.

The keynote speaker at the conference, Prof. Peter Donko, who is the immediate past president of the West African College of Surgeons described the condition as as a global issue, noting however that Africa is particularly affected due to poverty and lack of resources and adequate manpower to deal with cleft lip and palate.

“We are here to challenge ourselves to work with organisations like Smile Train which have been funding cleft treatment for many years and also with our governments to take the initiative forward by providing resources for treating these children who are unfortunate enough to be born with this congenital defect,” Prof Donko said.

He also charged experts on the need to change the way the affected persons are catered for, in addition to focusing on surgical repair of the defects.

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