Staff members of Engen Ghana Limited and some cleft patients with their mothers at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital
Staff members of Engen Ghana Limited and some cleft patients with their mothers at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital

Oil Company commits to support patients with cleft

Engen Ghana Limited (EGL) has reaffirmed its commitment to supporting patients with cleft lip and palate across the country.

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Cleft lips and Cleft palate, the third commonest birth defect worldwide is a gap or split in the upper lip and/or roof of the mouth (palate).

The Corporate Communications Manager of EGL, Georgette Quarmyne, said this when the team at EGL visited the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) to engage with patients that they had been supported at the Operation Smile Ghana (OSG) Nutrition Clinic.

The company, she said, firmly believed that every child deserves a chance to live a healthy and fulfilling life and that started with being confident with their smile; therefore, it would continue fuelling the buses that transport cleft patients to medical centres in the country.

“As part of our Corporate Social Responsibility, EGL will continue to support Operation Smile Ghana's medical missions and training programme for children and families affected by cleft palate conditions,” she said.

She explained that EGL had been partnering with OSG since 2014 to fuel the buses that conveyed cleft patients nationwide to determined surgery centres.

Statistics indicate that every three minutes somewhere in the world a child is born with a cleft.

In Ghana, this equates to one out of every 750 births.

Although clefts can be fixed with a simple surgery lasting just 45 minutes, one out of every 10 children with clefts dies before their first birthday.

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Raising awareness

She also called on private individuals and corporate Ghana to join OSG to raise awareness on the importance of seeking early medical attention, and also reduce the stigma attached to cleft palates, as we collectively strove to make a difference in the lives of those who needed it most.

“We entreat all corporate bodies to get involved to ensure that we give them the needed love, support and resources.

 “Parents should also not see their children as different from others, instead love them and give them the needed medical attention,” Mrs Quarmyne said.

The Programmes Manager for OSG, Felicia Babanawo, said her outfit focused on raising awareness, recruiting and treating patients with cleft palates.

She explained that the organisation enrolled children with clefts in the patients’ registry to provide a comprehensive from the nutrition intervention stage through to the surgery stage and healing stage.

However, she said funding was a major challenge to the organisation as it cost about $700 per patient to do surgery alone.

She indicated that due to the lack of awareness, children with clefts were stigmatised and sometimes tagged as descendants of the river gods and, therefore, appealed to the general public to accept and embrace these children.

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Appeal

She said although a definite cause of cleft had not been discovered yet, it was believed that, in most cases, an interaction of genetic and environmental factors such as smoking and alcohol during pregnancy were the cause of cleft lip and cleft palate.

Mrs Babanawo advised mothers to desist from alcohol and smoking during pregnancy, adding that “you hardly see most of our Ghanaian mothers smoke, but at times staying in environments where smoking goes on can have an impact on their unborn babies.”

“Once you have that child please be confident enough to reach out to OSG for help. Imagine these children having feeding and eating difficulties, we appeal to the general public to come in and support us to create smiles,” she added.

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