Some 84 health workers drawn from the 20 health districts of the Region have been trained as key actors in identifying cleft lip/palate in their communities.
This was during a 2-day workshop organized by Smile Train in partnership with the North West Regional Assembly on Thursday September 28 and to Friday 29, 2023 in the auditorium of NWRA.
Ngang Sharon, Program Coordinator Smile Train, Central Africa
Speaking to the workshop participants, Smile Train program coordinator for central Africa, Ngang Sharon intimated that, the objective of this 2-day workshop was to train and work in collaboration with these Health workers on how to identify and treat this plight in their respective divisions and sub divisions.
Commissioner for Health and Social Development NWRA
Representing the President of the North West Regional Assembly, the Commisioner for Health and social Development, Hon. Dr. Yaa Fondufe Sakah Lydia revealed that the North West Regional Assembly is the first to have a partnership of this magnitude with Smile Train and the population should maximise it as much as they can to benefit from this comprehensive free cleft care.
Dr. Fondufe, further emphasised that the health workers should ensure no person living with cleft in their communities should be left behind or deprived of this treatment because of stigmatization or discrimination. "Let your communities know that Cleft lip/palate is not a curse, witchcraft or evil spirit, and anybody with this health condition can have access to free comprehensive cleft care by approaching the North West Regional Assembly for identification, referral and proper cleft care and treatment". She added.
Mbingo Baptist Hospital
The workshop had engaging presentations on what cleft lip and Palate is all about, its prevalence in the Region and how to identify them by Acha Evaristus, ENT Surgeon, Comprehensive Cleft care- importance of holistic treatment of patients by Dr. George Ngock, importance of nutritional support to cleft patients and care givers by Happiness Ndifoin, all of Mbingo Baptist hospital,
Speaking on behalf of the workshop participants, Wirsiy Comfort Gohfen of Kumbo East health District, thanked the Regional Assembly for partnering with Smile Train to bring such a laudable initiative to the Region. "Personally, I have learned alot on what Cleft Lip and palate is all about and how to identity it as a community health worker. My colleagues and I promise to use all the knowledge gained here to create more and more awareness and sentisation campaigns in our communities on the free comprehensive cleft care offered by the Regional Assembly and Smile Train and how to get it." she added.
It should be noted that on the 26th of January 2023, the North-West Regional Assembly entered a strategic partnership agreement and signed a MoU on providing free access to cleft care and treatment in the Region. This capacity building workshop follows that of journalists that held on May 03 and 04, 2023.
All these workshops are offshoots of that partnership with many more activities in the pipeline.
This health condition is thought to be caused by a combination of genes and epi-genetic factors, such a substances (foods, drinks, drugs, medications) the mother comes in contact with during pregnancy. They most commonly occur as isolated birth defects but can also be associated with inherited genetic conditions
or syndromes. In the region there are many cases of cleft defects, and considering the spectrum of deficiencies secondary to cleft malformations. Smile Train will through the strategic cooperation partnership signed with the North West Regional Assembly, also train multidisciplinary teams of oral, dental, pediatric surgeons, anesthetists, or technicians, orthodontists, nutritionists, community health practitioners, and educationists to care for cleft disease.
Smile Train is the largest cleft-focused Organization with active cleft care programs in over 70 countries across the world and more than 245 partners and over 255 partner hospitals across Africa. Through strategic partnerships at the local and international levels, Smile Train dedicates itself towards providing funding towards quality healthcare capacity building and advocacy to increase access to safer surgeries and cleft care in low- and middle-income countries. The organization empowers local medical professionals with training, funding, and resources to provide free cleft surgery and comprehensive cleft care to children globally.
By Mboh Promise