Saba Bangash

PESHAWAR, 23 October: Thousands of children are born with cleft lips and palates in Pakistan every year and parents of such children face many difficulties in their treatment. Doctors say the treatment of children born with cleft lips and palates is possible with plastic surgery. However, plastic surgeons treating such diseases are very few in Pakistan, especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA.

Keeping in view this problem of the people, Smile Train, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), has started free of cost treatment of the affected children at Rehman Medical Complex (RMC) Peshawar. Dr Tariq Iqbal has conducted 28 successful surgeries since March this year.

Dr Tariq told TNN in an interview that the children born with cleft lips and palates should be shown to the doctor soon after their birth.

“Parents of such children should immediately consult a specialist doctor who will guide them on methods to feed the child. We treat such children keeping in view their weight. If the child gains weight about five kilograms in the age of three to six months then we perform surgery on the lip and then we perform surgery on the palate when the child reaches age of seven to nine months.

He said all the surgeries on cleft lip and palate children are performed free of cost.

“An ordinary person cannot afford treatment charges of this disease as a single such surgery costs about Rs80,000. However, we charge only Rs100 for registration card. We bear all expenses of anaesthesia, surgery, hospital admission and medicines,” Dr Tariq said.

Saeed Wazir, a resident of Bannu, brought his seven-month-old daughter, Hamna Rehman to RMC for second surgery.

“My daughter was born with cleft lip and palate and I brought her here for surgery. Mashallah, she is looking very pretty after surgery on lip. Earlier, we were very concerned about her outlook. Now I have come here to consult the doctor for her palate surgery,” Mr Wazir told TNN.

Dr Tariq said the treatment of cleft lip and palate children under the Smile Train will continue at the RMC.

“We started surgeries at RMC few months ago and we have no plans to end this programme. I along with other colleagues also performed such surgeries at another hospital in Peshawar. I am also providing my services at a Hospital in Swat,” he said.

According to a research, one in 700 children in Pakistan is born with cleft lip and palate. Children with this deficiency face difficulties in consuming food, breathing and hearing. Timely treatment can reduce complications for such children.