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Ministry, Smile Train, expand free cleft lips and cleft palates patients’ identification and treatment programme

The Ministry of Health and Child Care Department of Oral Health, in partnership with Smile Train, an international Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) that offers free cleft lips and cleft palates surgeries, is moving to scale up the patient identification and operations program in Zimbabwe.

 This came to light during a National Induction meeting which was held in Harare last week for various health professionals, including Provincial Medical Directors (PMDs) from the Ministry and other relevant stakeholders.

The programme seeks to capacitate health professionals with various skills to increase their reach to communities in remote parts of the country for awareness, early detection and treatment of cleft lips and cleft palates patients.

In a speech read on his behalf by Acting Oral Health Director, Dr Hardwicke Matikiti, Chief Director Curative Services, Dr Maxwell Hove, urged collaboration between Civil Society and Government.

“The programme seeks to expand its operational scope as it now wants to embark on a community based case finding.

“The expansion of this programme will require joint efforts so as to reduce the burden of missed cases,” he explained. 

Dr Hove applauded the Ministry and Smile Train partnership for past successes under the programme since its onset in 2011 before highlighting additional future plans.

“Under this partnership, the country has seen about 2 000 surgeries being done on children. These surgeries have gone a long way in alleviating the discomfort that these children feel and the negative psychological impact of these conditions.

“The programme will see the re-establishment of the Oral School Health Program and development of the oral school tool kit said. The pilot project will be conducted in selected districts,” said Dr Hove.

The expansion of the programme comes at a time Government is making frantic efforts towards ensuring access to health services for all and improving the quality of the health delivery system.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates the global burden of children born with cleft lips and cleft palates at one (1) in every 3 000 live births.

Among every 100 children born with cleft lips and cleft palates, 60 of them would be girls and 40 would be boys. The incident rate in Zimbabwe stand at 1 200 per live births.

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