We are happy and grateful to announce that BILD hilft e.V., the charity of the German newspaper BILD, has renewed its support of our work for cleft children in Pakistan for a second year.
Some 10,000 children with cleft lip and palate are thought to be born in Pakistan every year. Only about half of these children are lucky enough to have a surgery to repair their cleft: There are not enough surgeons who are trained in cleft lip and palate surgery, and many affected families lack the financial means to pay for it. We began our work in Pakistan in 2013. Since 2016, we have been working with the renowned surgeon Prof. Dr. Muhammad Ashraf Ganatra.
Thanks to him and the our supporters’ funding, we were able to significantly expand our work in Pakistan. Prof. Ganatra and his team carry out some 800 operations per year. The operations take place at the Al-Mustafa Medical Center in Karachi and in provincial hospitals outside of Karachi.
The cooperation with Prof. Ganatra has also proven itself during the Coronavirus pandemic: Many organizations whose work relies on foreign teams travelling into the country had to reduce, or in some cases completely cease their activities due to travel restrictions. Thanks to our fully locally-based structures, we were able to continue our work for the cleft children of Pakistan.
Treatments beyond the surgeries, such as speech therapy and orthodontics, had for a long time only been possible in isolated cases. Together with Prof. Ganatra, we are now pursuing the goal of building a comprehensive treatment center for affected children in Pakistan. In addition to the support of BILD hilft e.V., the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) is providing even more funding to enable further treatments such as speech therapy, ear, nose and throat medicine, orthodontics and psychosocial care. The aim is to set up a cleft center in which the children are cared for on an interdisciplinary basis.
The best treatment results are achieved when the cleft children receive their surgeries at a very young age. But Prof. Ganatra and his team often encounter older, untreated children, whose families were not able to secure treatment for them earlier. This shows that we sorely need even more support for cleft children in Pakistan. Because many children have no access to qualified treatment and in the worst case have to live with their malformation into adulthood. An early operation is particularly important for successful comprehensive treatment and, above all, for life development. The support of BILD hilft e. V. in combination with BMZ funding represents an important milestone for the development of our project in Pakistan.