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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Operation Smile: Free Surgeries Offered to Select Patients at KNH

Operation Smile, in partnership with Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), will conduct a free surgical program this week aimed at treating patients affected by congenital cleft lip.

Congenital cleft lip, occurring in approximately one in every 500 Kenyan babies, is among the most common birth defects. It results in a child being born with their upper lip or mouth incompletely formed during pregnancy, leading to an opening.

This defect poses several challenges for affected children, including difficulties in feeding immediately after birth due to the gap, which prevents breastfeeding and can lead to malnutrition. Other potential challenges include ear infections, hearing loss, dental issues, speech difficulties, and a risk of pneumonia due to aspiration if not corrected.

“Ideally, these surgeries are offered in hospitals at a cost of between Sh60,000 and Sh100,000 which is too costly for many Kenyans. With this partnership with KNH, the surgeries are offered for free to these patients, we are looking to restore their smiles and confidence,” Asaph Kinyanjui, country manager Operation Smiles, said.

He added that the organization aims to enhance the healthcare capacity so that the country has a larger pool of providers capable of performing this surgery.

Operation Smile is actively involved in correcting this birth defect in Kenya, providing support to patients by bringing them from marginalized areas and offering shelter to ensure they receive comprehensive care.

KNH, serving as the service provider, acknowledges Operation Smile for funding surgeries for children with this defect, particularly because many are from underprivileged backgrounds and cannot afford treatment.

“Most of these children come from outside Nairobi and lack access to treatment. When Operation Smile approached us to facilitate treatment for those in need, we were delighted to assist,” said Kennedy Koech, Head of the Dental Unit at KNH.

The program spans three days: patients underwent screening yesterday to determine their suitability for surgery, with surgeries scheduled until Friday.

Operation Smile also aims to establish KNH as a training hub for this type of surgery in the long term. Healthcare professionals could receive training and mentorship at KNH and then return to their counties to perform these surgeries, reducing the need for patients to travel to Nairobi for treatment.

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