Every parent aspires to have a healthy newborn, yet unfortunately, this is not always the reality. Cleft lip and cleft palate, a congenital anomaly characterized by an incomplete closure of the upper lip during fetal development, can hinder this desire. I express my gratitude towards the Belarisu Medical Centre for performing the necessary surgical intervention on my son several years ago. Following his birth, I observed distinct differences in his physical appearance, causing me immense distress.
The emotional turmoil I experienced during this period was so severe that it led to a state of depression, resulting in a week-long period of self-imposed starvation. My infant was unable to engage in breastfeeding, prompting me to reflect on potential missteps in my approach. During the commemoration of Belarisu’s first anniversary at Park Road in Ngara, a mother named Mama Amir expressed her gratitude for the positive outcome of her son’s condition. Mama Amir shared her experience of seeking medical assistance during her pregnancy, as her family and her husband’s family did not have a history of the birth defect in question.
Despite visiting multiple hospitals and incurring expenses, she did not receive the necessary help until her boss recommended Belarisu. The intervention provided by Belarisu resulted in a significant improvement in her son’s condition, enabling him to engage in activities such as smiling, feeding, and playing. Mama Amir expressed her everlasting gratitude, emphasizing that the surgery was provided free of charge.
Since its establishment, over 7000 cleft surgeries have been effectively performed, without any cost. This noteworthy endeavour has instilled hope and brought joy to numerous families. A team of extensively trained and committed medical experts ensures the safety and high quality of patient outcomes, while simultaneously providing cleft services at no expense. According to CEO Martin Kamau, the scope of surgery extends beyond children to include adults and the elderly. He further emphasized that the institution functions not only as a medical center, but also engages in capacity building, training, research, and innovation in the field of cleft care.
During the guided tour of the facility led by the CEO, I observed the evident mirth and amusement exhibited by the children, which prompted me to reflect upon the hardships they have endured. Specifically, children afflicted with cleft lip or cleft palate encounter challenges such as the inability to engage in breastfeeding, close their lips, articulate speech, and effectively interact with their peers and others.
The Centre provides a range of treatments, including surgical procedures, psychological assistance, aftercare, speech therapy, and dental treatment, among other offerings. Senator Veronica Maina in her parting words said, “I express my gratitude to Surgeon Kamau and Khan, as well as Smile Train and the medical team, for their commendable efforts in providing surgical procedures to correct cleft lip and palate conditions. It is important to note that being born with such conditions is not a defect or a result of witchcraft, contrary to certain beliefs held by some individuals. The surgical procedures offered by the Center are provided free of charge, benefiting families and communities on a large scale.
The facility will get ongoing assistance from both the national government and the county government.” The comments expressed by the county director, Kepha, were in alignment with those of Governor Sakaja. According to his statement, the governor-led county government intends to maintain its support for the Centre in order to provide assistance to Kenyans in need. Dr. Kamau expressed gratitude to his partners, including the National and county government, Train Smile Belarisu Foundation Nairobi Academy among others for their collaboration.
The media plays a vital role in the dissemination of information regarding cleft lip and cleft palate, as well as the various resources accessible to individuals impacted by these conditions. The media has a crucial role in disseminating information and shaping public opinion.
Through many platforms such as news broadcasts, articles, and social media campaigns, the media has the potential to contribute to public education regarding a particular ailment, thereby mitigating stigmatization and dispelling misconceptions. In addition, the media’s coverage has the potential to bring attention to the endeavours of institutions such as the Belarisu Medical Centre, thereby emphasizing their significant influence on the well-being of individuals and families who experience the challenges associated with cleft lip and cleft palate.
Through the inclusion of success stories, testimonials, and interviews with medical specialists, the media has the potential to foster a sense of optimism and motivate individuals in distress to actively pursue assistance. Furthermore, it is important to acknowledge that media coverage plays a significant role in raising awareness about the continued support required from both national and county governments. This support is crucial in order to maintain accessibility to essential services for all individuals in need. By fostering a collaborative relationship with the media, it is possible to collectively strive towards the establishment of a societal framework wherein individuals afflicted with cleft lip and cleft palate are provided with the comprehensive care and assistance that is rightfully owed to them. This concerted effort would ultimately result in an enhanced quality of life and overall well-being for these individuals.
In summary, cleft lip and cleft palate are medical conditions that affect individuals worldwide. Despite the distinctive difficulties posed by these circumstances, Belarisu has demonstrated significant progress in delivering comprehensive care and assistance to individuals born with cleft lip and cleft palate. By means of timely identification, surgical procedures, speech therapy, and psychosocial assistance, individuals affected by cleft lip and cleft palate in Belarisu are being guided towards enhanced oral aesthetics and an enhanced standard of living. Belarisu is currently witnessing significant progress in its endeavours to assist citizens in leading satisfying lives, thanks to the diligent efforts of healthcare professionals and supportive organizations.
By Josephine, Victoria, and Immaculate (AMWIK members)