The Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) has gained the status of a regional centre for oral maxillofacial surgery and treatment of cleft palates and lips, especially in new born babies. The President/CEO of Smile Train Global, Ms. Sussane Schafer, who visited the teaching hospital on Tuesday, said the organisation would partner with LUTH to provide eighth-month post-fellowship training for facial surgeons across West Africa.

Oral and maxillofacial surgery specialises in the treatment of injuries and defects in the head, neck, face, jaws and the hard and soft tissues of the oral and maxillofacial region. The congenital conditions can be corrected through surgery and special treatment by experts.

Prof. (Mrs)  Olugbemiga Ogunlewe, oral maxillofacial surgeon at LUTH, said many children with congenital abnormalities are not treated for various reasons, especially because they cannot access treatment. “Often because of   stigmatisation, they are kept in the house or some of them are killed in the rural communities because they don’t know where to go for treatment,” she noted.

The oral maxillofacial specialist disclosed that the hospital presently handles no fewer than 700 patients for this specialised treatment yearly. “Before now, we were treating just about 10 or less than 10 patients in a year. But since the partnership with Smile Africa in 2007, we have been able to treat close to 700 patients yearly,” she said.

The hospital, she added, has received assistance in form of training, treatment and management of cleft palates, speech care therapy and dietary counseling. Schafer said that the scheme was founded in the United States in 1999 to provide care on sustainable basis for cleft programmes and to take care of children who were affected by it around the world. “We are focused on safe and quality surgery for cleft, building capacity and strengthening health system and contributing to global surgery results around the world and training local professionals, including surgeons, nurses, dentists and speech therapists,” she explained.

The Medical Director, LUTH, Prof Chris Bode, praised the philanthropic spirit of the scheme which he said has given hope to many indigent families. He said the two-decade old programme, which berthed in Nigeria in 2007, has become very impactful both in providing treatment for patients and giving requisite skills to care givers. “At LUTH, we are resolute in providing care to every patient who comes here. That is why we welcome all forms of partnership, local and international, to enable us discharge our mandate even in the face of scarce resources and growing population,” Prof. Bode said.

Source: The Nation

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