Sixty cleft lip, palate children treated at week-long camp


ISLAMABAD: A United Kingdom-based plastic surgeon, AmanUllah Raja, has treated 60 cleft lip and palate children at a week-long camp.Parents brought their kids from far-flung areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Azad Kashmir, and Punjab at the medical camp held by the Islamabad Cleft Lip and Palate Association (ICLAPA) since last Monday. Speaking at the concluding event of the camp, he said that the biggest satisfaction for him and his team was that their treatment brought back smiles on faces of the children. Raja, along with Ijaz Bashir started the mission of treating the cleft lip and palate patients in Pakistan in 1996.According to the ICLAPA, focal person Farhat Akhtar Rehman, out of every 530 live births, one Pakistani child is born with a cleft lip or a cleft palate, or both. There are hundreds of thousands of children needing surgery with seven to ten thousand newborns adding to the number. Cleft lip and palate can lead to further complications if the child is not treated at a early age of 3-6 months for cleft lip and 11 months to a year for a cleft palate. The Pakistan Cleft Lip and Palate Association (PCLAPA) have been organising free plastic surgery camps for the treatment of children twice a year.Nick Hart, a consultant plastic surgeon working in the UK, joined PCLAPA along with his theatre team in 1997. Mohammed Riaz, consultant plastic surgeon, and Zahid Rafique, consultant anaesthetist from UK also joined the PCLAPA team. PCLAPA has organised 27 camps up till now and have successfully treated more than 2,150 patients. The surgical operations are carried out at the Bashir Hospital Gujrat. The average number of patients treated at each camp is around 100-150.The PCLAPA has established an audiology and speech therapy centre for these patients. The organisation continues the registration of patients all year and then foreign and Pakistani surgeons hold camps to carry out operations and check previously operated and treated patients. It also instructs mothers on how to feed newborns with cleft lip and cleft palate, and offers mother and child healthcare facilities.“We also organise seminars for awareness of this issue and hold events to increase the interaction of these patients with the society and reduce their depression and isolation,” Farhat said.The ICLAPA now plans to build a state of the art hospital in the capital to comprehensively deal with requirements of the children born with cleft lip and palates. Farhat said that the ICLAPA is not an NGO but a group of volunteers, which relies on the support of the donors to bring hope in the lives of the under privileged people of the society. The hospital planned by the ICLAPA would provide general pediatric, mother, and child care facilities. It would also offer physical and speech therapy needed for the rehabilitation of the cleft lip and palate patients.

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