The healthcare sector is one of the victims of the first two years of the Covid-19. The pandemic has altered delivery of most essential healthcare services, and one of the conditions affected is that of people born and living with cleft lip and cleft palate conditions.
Following the impact of Covid-19, one of the healthcare organizations that provides free corrective surgery for cleft lip and cleft palate—Operation Smile Malawi—suspended its services. The result was nothing to grin about; hundreds of people with the cleft lip and cleft palate conditions were unable to receive surgery and supportive rehabilitative healthcare.
This year Operation Smile Malawi resumed corrective surgeries by conducting a month-long programme that intends to cater to the cleft backlog in their system. The initiative is taking place at Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe where patients are accessing free surgeries alongside free transport, food and accommodation.
Standard Bank on May 25, 2022 donated K5.2 Million towards the surgeries as a continuation of its long-term commitment towards supporting the Operation Smile Malawi Initiative in the country.
“Supporting the health sector is one of the key focus areas of Standard Bank. We believe that we drive Malawi’s growth by taking care of our people and ensuring they receive support when needed to ultimately contribute to the country’s development,” according to Nyambura Chege, Standard Bank’s Head of Brand and Marketing.
Standard Bank appreciates the role of Operation Smile Malawi plays by supporting the health sector but mostly enabling access to a health care service that families including those in the rural and peri-urban areas would not be able to afford.
Cleft lip and cleft palate conditions can develop into further complications in areas of nutrition, hearing, dental and speech while facing stigma and discrimination.
While outlining the situation of the cleft lip and cleft palate in the country, Desiree Mhango, Operation Smile country manager acknowledged discrimination as a major challenge associated with the defect.
“In Malawi it is estimated that we have about 3000 people in the communities who have not received this surgical and rehabilitative support. This is a combination of limited capacity in the health sector as well as financial means for the families to access the health care required,” said Mhango.
Mhango hailed Standard Bank for the donation saying it will go a long way in supporting the patients that are serviced through the initiative at Kamuzu Central Hospital.
“These patients require a lot of things when they come for surgeries; they need transport, food and accommodation. Therefore, this gesture will make it possible for us to conduct many surgeries and create more smiles,” she said.
Lucy Chiumia, a parent from Chilumba in Karonga, hopes that the surgery is the end of stigma on her son.
“My son’s condition is talk of the society; I receive all the funny and painful comments even discrimination.
“However, the surgery that will be done on him will change everything and bring joy to my family. Thank you, Operation Smile and Standard Bank,” said Chiumia.
In Malawi, Operation Smile started its operations in 2012. Since its establishment, the charitable organization has managed to perform over 2, 000 surgeries.