CHIMOIO, MOZAMBIQUE — At least 14 children will benefit from correctve surgery for cleft lips this week in the Manica Provincial Hospital in the provincial capital, Chimoio, as part of a campaign in Manica promoted by the Ministry of Health in partnership with Smile Train, an the international children’s charity providing corrective surgery for children with cleft lips and palates.

New York City-based Smile Train provides cleft repair surgery free of charge to children in more than 85 developing countries and also trains local doctors to perform the surgery. According to the Smile Train website, those doctors then go on to train other doctors creating a long-term, sustainable system.

The representative of the Ministry’s oral health sector in Manica province, Micaela Maulate, guaranteed that all conditions for the campaign to begin are in place.

The campaign is starting with 14 children and from Monday to Friday this week. “We will keep on receiving people coming from the various districts,” she said, adding that the campaign is also counting on health specialists from Beira in central Sofala Province.

Maulate said there was no exact number of children to be accepted for the surgery because people from other districts in the province were gradually joining the campaign. What we want is to operate on the largest possible number of patients,” she stressed.

Maulate said the number of patients to be accepted for cleft lip correction may increase, because dental staff in the districts are working to identify more children to send them to the Chimoio hospital.

Maxillofacial surgeon Saraiva SimAPound o, who heads the team here, said the surgeries are easy and they last, on average, two hours for each patient.

One of the problems we face in these campaigns has to do with certain beliefs, because there are people who say they cannot be submitted to any cleft lip surgery because they were born with the condition. But we are working and gradually we will overcome these beliefs, he added.