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Bringing smiles back to cleft-lipped children

Or Sreypich / Khmer Times Share:
USAID/CC0

The Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital in Phnom Penh is collaborating with a group of doctors from Singapore to provide free cleft lip and palate surgery to Cambodian children from Monday to Friday.

A hospital statement yesterday urged parents from all over the country whose children are suffering from cleft lips or palettes to take advantage of the initiative.

“Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital will be providing free surgery to all cleft lip and cleft palate children so all parents should bring them in for treatment,” the statement said. “We are not only providing the surgery but also free accommodation and food to the children and their guardians.”

Pour un Sourire d’Enfant (PSE), a non-profit organization that helps children in Cambodia, yesterday also appealed to parents to take advantage of the free surgery.

Dr Sorn Saran, a paediatrician with the NGO, said life is not easy for children suffering from the conditions.

“Children with a cleft lip and cleft palate often have problems speaking clearly, eating and they also get ear infections,” he said. “They also may have hearing problems and problems with their teeth.”

“Usually in serious cases, we have to send the children to Thailand or European countries like France for treatment,” he noted.

PSE is a non-profit organisation operating in Cambodia since 1995 to help children suffering acute hardship by reintegrating them into society and by creating a safe and appropriate environment for them to study.

PSE operates six main programmes that meet children’s needs, including nutrition, healthcare, protection and accommodation, general education, vocational training and family support.

It has provided free surgery to 4,536 children with cleft lips and cleft palates in Cambodia since it was set up.

In 2017, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States outlined factors that contributed to children being born with cleft lips or pallets.

These include unhealthy practices such as smoking during pregnancy, diabetes and certain medication to treat epilepsy, such as topiramate or valproic acid, during the first three months of pregnancy.

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