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Children with cleft lips get free treatment

Updated: 2012-11-06 09:57
By He Dan in Beijing and Zhao Kai in Zunyi,Guizhou ( China Daily)

Children with cleft lips get free treatment

Medical experts check a child with a cleft lip in Zunyi No 1 People's Hospital. Provided to China Daily

More than 1,000 children with cleft lips or palates in Southwest China's Guizhou province are expected to receive free surgery from international medical experts through a charitable program by the end of 2015.

"Data showed that at least 1,200 children in Guizhou with cleft lips and palates were waiting for treatment," said Ge Zhenjiang, deputy secretary-general of the China Population Welfare Foundation in Beijing.

In partnership with the Alliance for Smiles Foundation, a San Francisco group dedicated to helping children in developing countries who have cleft lips and palates, as well as two other international charitable organizations, Ge's foundation has been running a program to provide free treatment for such children in China since 2002, he said.

The program is called Happy Smiles - Helping Children with Cleft Lips and Palates.

Asia's population has the highest ratio of cleft lip and palate, and in China, 1.8 percent of the population is affected, said Colin Wong, vice-president of the Alliance for Smiles Foundation and a professor of dentistry at the University of the Pacific in California.

However, children in less- developed regions normally cannot be treated at the proper time because of a lack of money and information.

"In Guizhou, poverty and insufficient knowledge of where to find help are the main reasons families don't get treatment for their children," Ge said.

Xiao Jisong, a farmer in Guizhou's Fenggang county, said he and his wife were depressed after their daughter and son were both born with cleft lips.

Xiao's 6-year-old daughter started primary school this year, and he said she was often laughed at by classmates.

"It was such a relief when family planning officials told me that my two children were suitable candidates for free surgeries," he said.

In one of a series of charity activities co-launched by the Chinese and international organizations, a team of 23 experienced medical experts from countries, including the United States, Britain, Canada and Malaysia, volunteered to operate on about 80 children with cleft lips and palates at Zunyi No 1 People's Hospital from Oct 28 to Nov 10.

Xiao's son, 4, underwent successful surgery on Wednesday, and his daughter received surgery on Saturday. The two children were discharged from the hospital on Sunday.

Yi Ruhui's 10-month-old granddaughter also received free medical treatment. The infant's parents left her with her grandma 40 days after she was born to find work in big cities.

"I'm very grateful for this opportunity," said the 43-year-old Yi, who lives in Suiyang county, Guizhou.

Contact the writers at hedan@chinadaily.com.cn and zhaokai@chinadaily.com.cn

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