Twenty people - mostly children and teens - will have free corrective surgery for cleft lip and cleft palate, courtesy of a United States-based not-for-profit organization which has brought a team of specialist surgeons and nurses for the first time to Bulawayo.
Nurse Marth Pamire, a volunteer with Operation of Hope, told Studio 7 that the organization has been bringing voluntary surgeons and nurses to perform free corrective surgery for cleft lip and palate in Harare since 2006.
The organization has brought the program to Bulawayo for the first time due to high demand. Surgery on some of the beneficiaries started at Mpilo Hospital on Monday and will end on Friday.
Pamire said nearly 70 prospective clients turned up for screening and the organization had to take about a third of the peoplebecause of limited time in performing the operations.
Five year-old Juliana, the daughter of Rambisai Jengwa from Chivi in Masvingo province, was among the first to have the corrective surgery.
Jengwa said she would never have been able to afford the surgery to correct her daughter’s cleft lip, adding that she is very grateful to have the operation conducted for free.
Tshiiwe Dziva’s son, two-year old Kudakwashe Hove, who has a cleft lip and cleft palate, will also have corrective surgery.
Dziva, who lives in Zvishavane in the Midlands province, said she had tried to have the surgery performed on her son under the same program in Harare last year but failed because the team had left before she could get there.
Dziva is grateful that this is being done for free. It costs a minimum of $3,000 to have corrective surgery for cleft lip and cleft palate, and most Zimbabweans cannot afford to pay it.
Jennifer Mora Trubenbach, chief executive officer of Operation of Hope and leader of the 10-member team, said her organization operates in needy developing countries and also seeks to impart skills to local health personnel.
One child in every 850 is born with cleft lip and cleft palate, which is believed to be a hereditary condition. Although those with thecondition are normal, they often have speech defects and have problems eating which sometimes affects their growth if it is not corrected.
Operation of Hope is being supported by Rotary Club and a local company. It expects to be back in Zimbabwe again in September.