Home » Don’t hide children with cleft lips, palates – Parents

Don’t hide children with cleft lips, palates – Parents

Some parents of children with cleft lips and palates have encouraged other parents and caregivers of children with such birth defects to seek medical care for the kids instead of hiding them for fear of stigma.

The Cleft lip and cleft palate are openings or split in either the upper lip or the roof of the mouth (palate) respectively or both, which occurs when facial structures that are developing in an unborn baby do not close completely.

Some of the parents, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, said it was upsetting and heart-breaking to give birth to a child with a cleft, adding, however, that seeking early medical care could help correct it for the child to have a normal life.

Mr Kofi Wayo, a father of a 16-month-old baby girl with a cleft defect, said he was not too worried when she was born with the cleft lip and palate.

Mr Wayo said that irrespective of the stigmatisation, he encouraged the wife not to hide the girl while they sought medical care for her, which resulted in the correction of the cleft lips at the Komfo Anokye Hospital at Kumasi.

He said since the defect also affected the palate, they had started the process to get that also corrected.

Ms Mercy Takyi, a mother of a 17-month-old baby boy, who had the child’s defect corrected for free courtesy of Operation Smile Ghana, said she was scared by the birth of her fourth child since none of her earlier three children had any form of defect.

Ms Takyi said that to avoid stigma, she stopped her trading job so she would not have to take the baby to town unless to visit the child care centre, adding that even at the centre the nurses had to attend to them early so they could leave to avoid people staring at them.

She said because of the defect, the baby could not breastfeed and therefore had to rely on formula food, which was given to him through a syringe.

For her, being introduced to the benevolent of Operation Smile by health workers two days after delivery, made a difference in their lives as the corrective surgery was done for the boy when he was three months old.

She said there were many babies with such defects but parents often hid them and reiterated the importance of not hiding the children as that could lead them to the right source of help.

Ms Ajara Mumuni, whose 16-months-old baby had already gone through the first surgery to correct the cleft lip and awaiting a second for the palate, on her part, advised parents, especially mothers to ‘close their ears to what people say upon seeing their babies with defects.’

Ms Mumuni said not paying attention to what people would say saw her through the trying moments and pushed her to seek medical care at the Agogo Hospital where the boy was born to show him to other parents after the successful first surgery as evidence that it could be corrected.

For Ms Doris Agbetuormyo, it was a double agony as the father of the eight-month-old baby boy abandoned them the moment he visited them at the clinic at Dansoman and saw the baby with the defect.

Ms Agbetourmyo said that luckily for her the anaesthetist who worked on her during the caesarean session encouraged her and connected her with the Operation Smile team who took her through the necessary process and the surgery was done in February 2022.

“God knows best, so pray and look for help from the hospitals instead of hiding them, it can be corrected and I can testify to that,” she emphasized.

Meanwhile, Mr Clement Ofosuhemeng, Patient Coordinator of Operation Smile Ghana, said the international non-government organization ensured that everything, including transportation, food and medical bills, that could prevent parents from having surgery for their cleft babies were taken care of by the team.

Mr Ofosuhemeng, therefore, called on parents, and caregivers to contact the organization to help correct the defects in their babies and put a smile back on their faces instead of hiding them.

He said they were aware of the stigma associated with the defect as a society, family and friends, saw such children as outcasts and spirit children hence the resolve to help reconstruct the cleft lips and palates while providing counselling to the parents to be able to care of the children irrespective of people’s opinions.

Source: Ghana News Agency


April 2024