A medical expert and first Oral, Maxillofacial Surgeon in Nigeria, Prof. Olugbemiga Ogunlewe, has warned that use of local herbal concoctions and oral contraceptive pill could lead to babies born with cleft lip and palate.
Cleft lip and palate is a congenital birth defect that could be corrected with a 45 minutes surgery, but could lead to severe consequences if not treated.
Ogulewe made the disclosure at a media workshop with the theme: “The Role of Media in Cleft Awareness in Nigeria”, organised by a Non Governmental Organisation with focus on cleft palate under the auspices of Smile Train.
The medical expert also said that smoking and alcohol, as well as infections such as syphilis, chickenpox of a pregnant mother could also lead to a baby being born with cleft lip and palate.
Ogunlewe, however, advocated early care for baby born with the medical condition, saying that surgery should be done between six months and one and half years before the baby develop nasal speech.
Ogunlewe frowned on the myth created to explain the medical defect and the stigma suffered by those with cleft lips and palates, describing such as total misconception of the causes.
“Some cultural believe are attached to cleft impairment such as saying that it was as a result of curse, evil spirit, result of wayward activities of child’s mother, nothing could be farther from the truth.” She noted that these misconceptions have caused conflicts in families. She, however, dismissed such myth, saying that cleft and palate could be treated with surgery within 45 minutes without any cost borne by the parents.
In her opening remark, the Programme Director, Smile Train West/Central Africa, Mrs. Nkeiruka Obi, said that nobody should be allowed to die of cleft lips and palates because treatment is free.
Obi who said that the greatest challenge facing people born with cleft and palate is stigma due to lack of awareness, urged the media to help sensitise people with the medical condition that life has not ended.
She said that those requiring cleft surgeries in the country yearly are put at 6,186 people, saying that poor people don’t have access to surgery.
Obi said that Smile Train, presently in over 70 countries, has spent $10 million for comprehensive cleft care and training of medical personnel in the country in the last ten years. The programme director added that the organisation is currently partnering 54 major hospitals in the country for free comprehensive care of cleft lips and palates.