The most common congenital facial malformation is cleft lip, it is not a curse and it is totally curable, project development officer of German Cleft Children’s Aid Society (Deutsche Cleft Kinderhilfe e.V.) said.

The German organisation is partnering local civil society organisations in holistic treatment of cleft lip, including search for patients, counselling of the parents, surgery, other treatments and longtime care, he explained. The agency has a seal of approval from the over 100-year-old German evaluation agency DZI – German Central Institute for Social Issues. The GCCAS is at present supporting the NGOs in nine countries.

In India it has been partnering with NGOs in nine centres, including the Vizag Cleft Centre at the Durga Nursing Home at Urvasi Junction at Kancherapalem. The city centre was started seven years ago, its head Y. Sivanagender Reddy explained. The GCCAS is helping perform 3,500 operations world wide out of which 2,000 happen in India. Apart from the operations the agency is supporting training of doctors in the latest techniques. The local NGOs have teams of social workers who go to the habitations and sensitise and counsel the community on the deformity and its cure and bring in the patients for operation.

The holistic treatment needs multiple surgeries and speech therapists to train the patient. Once completed the patient would be able to integrate with society and lead a normal life. For a proper treatment it is essential that the patient be brought in as early as possible. It takes nearly seven years for the patient to be totally normal. In some countries the patient is identified during pregnancy during scanning and the parents sensitised and counselled about the treatment.

The biggest challenge for the agency is getting the family to bring the patient in for treatment and return for the periodical reviews and follow up treatment, Sivanagendra Reddy said. The surgery and treatment is being done totally free of cost for poor patients, with funding from international donors, he added. Further details can be had from the Cleft Centre in Durga Nursing Home at Urvasi Junction, Visakhapatnam, phone: 9030028599, 9550235047, 9030012899.

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