Call for better awareness of cleft lip, cleft palate

DR Chin Zin Hing (second right) being briefed by Zainal during his visit to the Cleft exhibition.

KUCHING: Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) director Dr Chin Zin Hing has called for greater awareness among the society about birth abnormalities of cleft lip and cleft palate.

He said cleft lip and cleft palate was a congenital problem which occurred in every 500 to 700 child births in Asian countries.

“The awareness of cleft among the society must be improved and it must be treated in the early stages,” he said when officiating at a one-day Cleft Awareness Course held at the Clinical Research Centre (CRC) Auditorium, Sarawak General Hospital here yesterday.

He expressed hope that the course would give a better insight about this birth defects to the participants who would then help to disseminate the information to others.

The course was jointly organised by Cleft Lip & Palate Association Malaysia (clapam) together with the Plastic Surgery and Reconstructive Department of SGH.

Course participants included doctors and nurses serving in both the private and public hospitals and clinics.

According to a brochure distributed during the course, a cleft palate is an opening or split in the roof of the mouth that occurs when the tissue does not fuse together during development in the womb. A cleft palate often includes a split (cleft) in the upper lip (cleft lip) but can occur without affecting the lip. Cleft lip and cleft palate can occur on one or both sides of the mouth.

In conjunction with the course, the organisers had also offered to pay for the cost of surgeries involving 14 selected patients of cleft lip and cleft palate that were registered with SGH.

The organisers had allocated three days until today for the surgery to be carried out on all 14 patients.

Dr Chin said as in most birth defects cases, those born with cleft lip and cleft palate would require serious attention by medical experts.

“Some patients will also encounter social problems due to their conditions. By having this surgery, at least it can help to improve their social life and build up their self-confidence,” he added.

Also present at the opening were SGH plastic surgery consultant John Ranjit Nesaraj and clapam chairperson Zainal Azhar Ahmad.