By Collins Yakubu-Hammer
Oral Health Advocacy Initiative (OHAI), an NGO, in collaboration with a U.S charity body, Smile Train, has performed cleft surgeries for not fewer than 174 Nigerians.
The Executive Director of OHAI, Dr Ver-or Ngutor, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja that the feat was achieved through strategic partnership with Smile Train and the Federal Ministry of Health.
Ngutor said the surgeries were performed in Benue, Kebbi, Yobe and Kano States.
NAN reports that cleft lip is a variation of a type of congenital deformity, caused by abnormal facial development during gestation period leading to non-fusion of facial structure before birth.
Ngutor, fellow of the West African College of Surgeons and lead surgeon, further disclosed that the cleft surgical operations was conducted by a team of doctors and other health workers trained on cleft management.
“We as an organisation have over the years mobilised resources to addressing the challenges of cleft amongst our people.
“We have our operations spread across 32 states and the Federal Capital Territory, and are determined to reach to as much patients that are affected by cleft.
“From 2011 when we commenced cleft surgery programme, we have done over 3,500 safe surgeries. This was recognised in 2017 when our major donor, Smile Train, named us ‘Global Leader in Cleft Care in Africa’ for complying with best practices.
“In the month of August 2019 alone, we were able to successfully carry out 174 surgeries with the support of the Benue, Kebbi and Yobe state governments as well as Rano Health Care and Community Development Initiative in Kano state”, he said.
Ngutor added that OHAI’s mission was to reach out to the rural dwellers that are hard to reach.
According to him, 90 per cent of medical doctors live and practice in urban centres while living a great majority of the populace unattended and at a great risk of the ravages of Oro-facial diseases.
“OHAI recently signed an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Ministry of Health.
“The aim of the MoU is to facilitate collaboration through the provision of technical assistance, capacity building, training, knowledge and skill transfer to meet health challenges and partnership in professionalism,” Ngutor said. (NAN)