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100 children get free cleft-lip and palate surgeries

Over 100 children with cleft lips have had a successful surgical operation under the Operation of Hope Surgical Mission at Mpilo Hospital in Bulawayo.

Following the overwhelming number of patients requiring the surgeries, the mission has extended its free services to the 31st of May.

A cleft is a gap or split in the upper lip and/or roof of the mouth (palate). The gap is there because parts of the baby’s face didn’t join together properly during development in the womb. Babies can be born with a cleft lip, cleft palate, or both.

The condition is caused by any one of the following factors during pregnancy – lack of enough tissue during fetal development, genetics, consumed unsafe substances, and medications. The condition causes difficulty in the child’s feeding, hearing, speaking, or dental problems.

In a statement, the Chief Executive Officer and President of Hope Worldwide, Jennifer Trubenbach said they have extended the service as they have noted that many patients are in desperate need of the operation.

“We have extended our surgical mission to the 31st of May. While our mission was supposed to end on the 17th of this month, we noted that many patients are in desperate need of this operation and we cannot just leave them like that,” said Trubenbach.

She said the high figures are understandable considering that they have not been around for the past two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  

“We have so far restored the smiles of at least 100 children after successful surgical operations since we started on the 7th of this month. We are targeting a total of 250 operations for this May,” said Trubenbach.

Meanwhile, Schweppes Holdings Africa Limited, one of the local supporting partners,  said they are grateful that Operation of hope has decided to extend its stay to help more children.

“This would mean more children getting assistance. Our partnership with the Operation of Hope Mission has brought joy to families with babies with cleft lips or pallets. Schweppes Holdings Africa Limited has partnered with the operation of hope for over 8 years. Health care has always been one of our ethos through our corporate social investment. Babies born with cleft lip struggle to feed and society struggles to understand the cause of cleft lip,” said Corporate Affairs Executive Ropafadzo Gwanetsa.

Previously, the operations were also done in Harare, at Harare General Hospital, but this year, they are only being done at Mpilo Hospital.

This year marks the 30th surgical mission in Zimbabwe and the volunteer team comes from seven continents – the US, UK, India, Portugal, Australia, Canada, and Africa- Zimbabwe and Operation of Hope Worldwide have performed over 5 000 free surgeries in Zimbabwe since 2006.

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