Alliance for Smile brings hope for cleft-lipped children | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 18, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 18, 2009

Alliance for Smile brings hope for cleft-lipped children

Surgeries free of cost until Feb 28

Alliance for Smile (AfS), a US organisation working with plastic reconstructive surgery, brings hopes for the children with cleft lips and palates.
A total of 150 cleft-lipped patients are receiving free treatment at Dhaka Shishu Hospital from February 14 under a special mission which was formally launched at the hospital in the city yesterday.
AfS medical team comprising 32 US surgeons in association with the hospital specialists and Rotary Club of Gulshan Lake City will conduct the free surgery mission until February 28.
Barbara Fisher, a member of the visiting team, said: “There is an existing social stigma regarding people with cleft-lipped anomalies which forces them to remain socially isolated. They are widely ridiculed for their appearance. The surgery will bring back their simile and social status.”
Apart from suffering socially, there are other physical problems they go through, he said people with cleft lips cannot eat properly so they are highly malnourished, adding that they also suffer from ear infections and pneumonia. Surgery liberates them from all these ailments.
Cleft lips and palates are anomalies that occur during the early weeks of embryonic development. Hereditary predisposition is the main cause and studies also indicate that folic acid and vitamin B deficiency, use of anti-seizure medication, exposure to some infectious disease and certain environmental agents disrupt the normal development of the foetus.
Experts said a total of 5,000 children are born with cleft lips and palates every year in the country. Majority of them do not receive any medical assistance. Shishu Hospital can only provide treatment for 150 patients a year.
Asians have one of the highest rates of children born with cleft lips ratio stand at approximately 350:1, they added.
Speaking at the programme, Health and Social Welfare Secretary Sheikh Altaf Ali said, “The work of these surgeons will bring the people from Bangladesh and the US closer.”
US Charge de'Affaires Geeta Pasi said, “This effort shows the philanthropic practices of the US. We would continue our assistance to Bangladesh in the health sector.”
She also informed that the US provided around $65 million to the country in the health care sector.
Chairman of the hospital management board Prof Mahmudur Rahman, Director Dr AR Khan, former district governor of Rotary Club Gulshan KM Jainul Adedin and president Dr Jainul Adedin also spoke.

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