For her relentless effort in ensuring that people with cleft and palate conditions live normal lives, Oral Health Advocacy Initiative (OHAI) has won the 2016 global leader care for cleft care in Africa.
The award was presented by Smile Train, a United States of America based cleft charity organisation with a vision to give every child born with cleft deformity a second chance to live a full and productive life free from stigmatization.
In the condition there is failure of closure of the lips and palate arising from developmental anomalies. These disorders can result in feeding, speech, hearing problems, frequent ear infections as well as stigmatization. Often times the condition is associated with poverty and other disorders.
Presenting the award in an elaborate event held at the general hospital, Illorin, Kwara state, Programme Director Smile Train, West/Central Africa, Mrs. Nkeiruka Obi said they were in Ilorin to celebrate excellence.
She explained that Smile Train has presence in over 80 countries of the world were it partners local professionals who are committed to the treatment of cleft.
“We have a very unique strategy which is to teach a man to fish model whereby we come into a community, empower the local medical professionals who in turn are trained and are able to provide comprehensive care for cleft patients.
“In Nigeria we have partnered with an NGO called Oral Health Advocacy Initiative. They have been our partners since 2011/2012 and today, they have brought us to Kwara State where they are doing free comprehensive cleft care for people in the state. Today is the beginning of cleft week and we are here to tell the people that no child should be allowed to suffer cleft because OHAI and Smile Train is here to provide free and high quality cleft surgery to anybody willing to be helped.
“In the last couple of years, OHAI has done almost 2,000 quality safe cleft surgeries and for us OHAI is qualified by all standards to be a global leader in cleft care in Africa”.
She explained that OHAI was been awarded global leader in cleft care due its consistency in providing care for cleft patients in compliance with global best standard adding that Smile Train has over the years done about 2 million free cleft surgeries around the globe.
On his part, Chief Executive Director, OHAI, Dr. Ver-or Ngutor disclosed that he was moved to establishing the organisation on realisation in Kano State in 2003 that while several cases of oral health issues abound, not much information about oral health was available.
He added that the organisation which has made intervention in 16 states so far has carried out over 2,000 primary and secondary surgeries.
Aside cleft care programme, OHAI, also attends to other health issues such as Noma intervention programme, oral health perspective of HIV/AIDS programme, oral cancer programme, human and health resource development programme and OHAI craniofacial hospital.
Also speaking on the award, director general of the Kwara State Hospital Management Bureau, Dr Bunmi Jetaro Winters said OHAI has shown uncommon dedication to improving the wellbeing of Nigerians particularly the poor.
She maintained that the award was well deserved considering the huge number of beneficiaries within and outside the state adding that, the feat was achieved because of the commitment of the OHAI team.