Cleft lip and cleft palate are facial and oral malformations that occur very early during pregnancy. Cleft lip/palate can affect other parts of a baby’s face and result in complications such as speech impediments, increased risk of ear infections and disrupted tooth development. A child with a cleft deformity may also experience difficulties feeding, resulting in malnourishment or even death.
In Tanzania approximately 2,500 children are born with cleft deformities annually. Fortunately, most cleft deformities can be fixed with a simple surgery. Since these surgeries are ideally performed within the first 18 months of a child’s life, early identification and intervention is essential for healthy outcomes.
CCBRT performs half of the cleft lip/palate surgeries in Tanzania. In 2015, our surgeons corrected 394 cleft lips/palates. Patients included children and adults from across Tanzania, 318 of whom were referred via CCBRT’s mobile technology programme, transportMYpatient. Through this programme, patients identified by CCBRT cleft ambassadors receive money for transport to CCBRT via M-Pesa mobile money. On arrival, they receive treatment, meals and accommodation free of charge.
Building Capacity & Awareness
With Smile Train’s support, CCBRT hosts surgeons for intensive training. Our expert doctors lead them in practical exercises and share the latest surgical techniques. As CCBRT builds capacity throughout east Africa, even more smiles will be restored.
CCBRT staff travel throughout Tanzania to raise awareness about cleft lip/palate. Ambassadors dispel myths about it, inform caregivers of the treatments available for children with the condition, and publicize the availability of free treatment for all patients below the age of 5.