Cleft Charity provides $2m for surgery facility at KATH

Smile Train, the world’s largest cleft charity, has provided $2million for the construction of a six-storey centre of excellence for surgery of children with cleft lip and palate.

The centre, to be constructed at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi, will be the first of its kind in the whole of Africa to provide corrective surgery for children with cleft lip and palate.

Ghana Cleft Foundation, through the KATH sourced the funding for the construction of the centre that is expected to be completed in 18 months.

Smile Train, founded in 1999 and headquartered in New York in the United States of America, is a non-profit organisation and charity, providing free corrective surgery for children with cleft lips and palates in 87 countries, training local doctors and providing hospital funding for the procedures.

The facility would consist of an out-patient department, consulting rooms, four theatres with pre-operative and post-operative wards, laboratories, stores, lecture halls, library and technical services working area.

A cleft lip or palate happens when the structures that form the upper lip or palate fail to come together when a baby is developing in the womb. 

The exact reason why this happens to some babies is often unclear, but it is treatable. 

At a ground breaking ceremony on Wednesday to mark the commencement of the facility, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the KATH, Dr Oheneba-Owusu Danso, noted the Ministry of Health, Ghana Cleft Foundation and Smile Train were committed to a memorandum of understanding in August 2020, for the establishment of an institutional framework for a project for cleft lip and palate care in Ghana, and in Africa through the establishment of the National Cleft Care Centre.

He noted the project, when completed, would boost Ghana’s position as a country “that is responsive to dynamics and modern trends in health care delivery, as well as our health tourism potential.”

“The best part of it is that the centre is going to serve as a leadership centre for capacity building for the cadre of health professionals on the African continent offering comprehensive cleft lip and palate care,” he stressed.

President of the Ghana Cleft Foundation, Professor Peter Donkor, noted the centre would develop mechanisms for strengthening and expanding cleft lip and palate care not only in Ghana but Africa. 

He commended Smile Train for the provision of the funds to construct the facility and also to equip it. 

Ms Erin Stieber, Senior Vice President of Smile Train, indicated they would continue to be committed to putting smiles on the faces of children with cleft lip and palate. 

She said the establishment of the centre would advance health care delivery, research and training of health professionals and that the best would be for Ghana and the entire African continent.

Chief Executive of Kath, Dr Oheneba Owusu-Danso, Ms Erin Stieber, Snr Vice President of smile train performing groundbreaking


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