Patients suffering from cleft lip and palate will get free treatment after the government  made a commitment to eradicate neglected surgical diseases and tropical diseases by 2030.

During the launch of an initiative to map and register patients with neglected diseases in Meru, Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki said that the Ministry of Health will go on a door to door mapping exercise to register patients for free corrective surgery.

“People with neglected surgical conditions live with stigma and are largely left out of nation building. This is because there has been lack of awareness and inadequate funding for corrective surgery. But as a government, we are now committed to ending these conditions for equity and development, “said the CS.

This initiative is targeted to reach more than 7000 Kenyans with cleft lip and palate conditions. and is supported by the Henry Family Advised Funds, The Global Alliance for surgical, Obstetric, Trauma and Anesthesia Care, College of surgeons in East, Central and South Africa (COSECSA) Mount Kenya University and the Smile Train.

Study shows that cleft lip and palate is a common malformation present from birth, affecting one in every 700 newborns. Its causes are not well known but it’s associated with genetics, nutritional deficiency (inadequate folic acid), smoking and drinking and taking medication without prescription during pregnancy. While it can be treated with surgery, many parents cannot afford treatment for their children and rely on free medical camps targeting malformation.

Last year, during the Sixth Scientific Congress of the Pan African Association of cleft lip and palate in Nairobi, participants urged African governments to allocate adequate funds for the treatment of cleft lip and palate.

They also noted that since the cost of treatment is beyond reach for many people, the government should step in to incorporate treatment into national surgical plans as part of the universal healthcare.