Story by Abigirl Tembo, Health Editor
THE free cleft lip and palate surgeries being conducted at public hospitals continue to get an overwhelming response, as the public shies away from exorbitant fees charged at private health institutions.
Parents and their children alike have found refuge in public hospitals where the government and its partners, Love Without Reason and the Global Cleft and Cranio-Facial Foundation are offering free cleft lip and palate surgery.
This comes at a time when private institutions are charging exorbitant fees, but thanks to the second republic’s vision of universal health access, public hospitals have become a practical option for the majority.
A parent, Veronica Nyamachorongwa said, ‘‘When my child was born I was traumatised and didn’t know what to do or how to handle him, and what made it worse was the whispers and finger-pointing in our neighbourhood hence I withdrew from everyone and kept to myself so when I heard about this free surgery camp I got into a bus and came to Harare from Mutare and now I am happy my child’s condition has been fixed.’’
Another parent, Petronella Mazise noted, ‘‘It was very difficult for me as I did not even understand the condition in the beginning but now I am happy my child is now normal like other children.’’
The President of Love Without Reason Zimbabwe Dr Adore Danda said their vision is to achieve a cleft-free world.
Dr Danda noted, ‘‘It is a challenge though because every month we get more cases of congenital malformations but that is our aim what we do not want is children who are affected with this condition to suffer from the stigma associated when they grow up with this condition they will end up suffering from low self-esteem and they may not end up being the adults that we want them to be in the future. Some of them in certain settings we so this work they end up being used in beggary so we want to avoid all that so that we give them a chance to fit into the community.’’
Cleft lip and palate is a childbirth abnormality caused by the failure of tissues to get into proper shape when the child is still in the womb.