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Speeches at the 10th Anniversary

OPENING BY THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF KATH
10TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION OF KATH CLEFT CLINIC

The Regional Minister,   
President and Members of Board, Ghana Cleft Foundation,
Mayor of Kumasi,
Members of Parliament,
Ashanti Regional Chairmen of NDC, NPP

Mr Yaw Peprah, Sponsor
Directors and Heads of Department,
Distinguished Invited Guests,
Parents and Patients,
Dedicated Cleft Care Professionals,
Members of the Press,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to be asked to chair this durbar to mark the 10th anniversary celebration of the KATH Cleft Clinic.  From its humble beginnings this Clinic has become one of the most positive icons of specialization at this hospital.  Individuals and families affected by cleft lip and palate often feel hopeless and frustrated. I am proud that KATH through this clinic offers hope to such patients.

I commend the dedicated health care professionals who contribute to this unique multidisciplinary clinic where paediatricians, surgeons, nurses, dentists, orthodontists, nutritionists, speech therapists, social workers, etc, work as a team to treat children with cleft lip and palate. The hospital Board and management acknowledge your dedication and urge you to work even harder.  We pledge our continued support.  I am aware you do not have adequate space for the clinic.  I pledge to work with the team to explore ways of solving the problem.

I am happy to observe that this celebration includes families who have benefited from this service.  You are the ambassadors for the service so please help educate the general public and help those who need our services to find the clinic.

In line with our desire, as a tertiary health institution, to extend services to the remote parts of the country, KATH remains committed to freeing up staff to join cleft outreaches organized by the Ghana Cleft Foundation.  I assure KATH will continue to support this laudable initiative.

The Ghana Cleft Foundation was formed to support cleft care and has worked closely with the KATH Clinic and other such clinics in Ghana to ease the financial burden of patients with cleft lip and palate.  I urge you to donate towards their activities.

Let us celebrate this day and commit ourselves to do better.

Thank you

ADDRESS BY PROFESSOR PETER DONKOR –PRESIDENT, AT DURBAR TO MARK THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE KOMFO ANOKYE TEACHING HOSPITAL CLEFT CLINIC, KUMASI, NOVEMBER 28TH, 2014

Representative of the Honourable Ashanti Regional Minister,
Chief Executive, Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital,
Honourable Mayor of Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly,
Board Members, Ghana Cleft Foundation,
Honourable Members of Parliament,
Ashanti Regional Chairmen of NDC & NPP
Directors and Heads of Department,
Mr Yaw Peprah, CEO Assenta Properties,
Distinguished invited Guests,
Members of the Cleft Team,
Members of the media,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I feel honoured and humbled to stand before you as head of the KATH Cleft Clinic and President of the Ghana Cleft Foundation on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the KATH Cleft Clinic.

I welcome especially our distinguished invited guests for gracing this occasion with their presence. Thank you for accepting our invitation. I welcome the Members of the Board of Directors the Ghana Cleft Foundation who are with us here today. Let me mention at the this stage the passing of one of the Founding members of the Ghana Cleft Foundation, Lawyer Paapa Dadson, whose greatest passion was working to alleviate the suffering of those born with a cleft deformity. May we please stand to observe a minute’s silence in his honour.

Some members of the KATH Cleft Clinic have been planning the activities to commemorate this anniversary over the past year under the theme “10 years of Team Cleft Care in Ghana”. They include Drs Gyikua Plange-Rhule, Yelibora, Oti Acheampong, Daniel Sabbah, Richard Selormey, Mrs Naomi Konadu Yeboah Nurse Barbara Frimpong, Mr Seth Gyamfi, and Varaderos Events Solutions. Several others have contributed behind the scenes. We thank them all for their good work in putting the programme together. Shall we please acknowledge the whole KATH Cleft Team?

During the past week we have organized a float through Kumasi city centre, held a public lecture for midwives, mounted a photo exhibition on cleft and provided free surgeries for children with cleft lip and palate. This durbar represents the climax of our celebrations.
Cleft lip and palate is the commonest birth deformity affecting the face and mouth. It affects all racial groups, and all sexes. In the majority of cases the cause is not known. Most cases have no family history and are NOT inherited.

Patients with cleft lip and palate look different and feel rejected by society. This can be so bad that children with cleft drop out of school due to teasing and bullying. Usually the patients come from financially deprived backgrounds and have complex medical problems, for which reasons they need assistance form different specialists.
Those who cannot breastfeed need special diet and need help from nutritionists; paediatricians monitor their development and take care of general medical problems that may be present; their teeth are often wrongly placed and they need dentists to care of them; speech therapists help to correct speech anomalies; nurses take general care of them; social workers deal with their numerous social problems; surgeons close the holes; and anaesthetists make the operations possible.  Surgery is not the only treatment they need. Even after surgery there may be complications for which other treatments may be required.
The good news is that once they are treated they live perfectly normal lives and contribute their quota to nation building.
Nearly 11 years ago the KATH Cleft Clinic was formed. This followed consultations with the management of Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, who have since continued to support the clinic. The motivation behind the Clinic is for it to serve as a one-stop clinic for patients born with cleft lip and palate, instead of them chasing specialists around the hospital. At the clinic all the required specialists are present and work together as a team. 

Clinics are held once a week and nearly 1000 patient attendances were recorded in 2013. Since its inception in 2003, more than 2000 patients with cleft lip and palate have received surgery.  The success of the Clinic is due to the continued support it receives from the KATH Directorates of Oral Health, Child Health, EENT, Anaesthesia, and Surgery.

The KATH Cleft Clinic works closely with the Ghana Cleft Foundation, an NGO dedicated to advocacy for cleft lip and palate. The formation of the Ghana Cleft Foundation was inspired by our experience with the financial difficulties faced by patients and their families that attended the clinic. We saw them struggle to pay for transport to the clinic, buy formula feed for their children; pay for medicines; and pay for treatments that were not covered by NHIS.
The Foundation’s role is one of advocacy. It seeks to support education and awareness creation about cleft, mobilize financial resources for treatment, support the training of cleft professionals, and conduct research into cleft.

Over the years the Foundation and the KATH Cleft Clinic have formed an inseparable bond to advance cleft care. The aim of this cooperation is to make sure that every child born in Ghana born with cleft lip and cleft palate receives prompt and quality treatment by well-trained Ghanaian professionals. To translate this vision to action we need to increase awareness of the condition and educate patients and families affected by cleft, as well as the general public. We need adequate numbers of professionals to treat all those who need care. We need to expand facilities and the reach and range of services, and we must also build teams around the country.
One of the most productive outcomes of this collaboration between the Clinic and the Foundation is the regular surgical outreaches to different parts of the country. Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital and Kwame Nkrumah University management have been generous in releasing their staff for the treatment outreaches. In recent times the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital and the University of Ghana have also joined the outreaches. We wish to thank all these institutions for their support.
The real heroes that we celebrate are the mothers whose love for their deformed children never wanes. Many of them have resisted the pleadings from family members to dispose of their children and have been ostracized as a result. It is heartwarming to see these mothers advising and reassuring and supporting each other as they wait to be seen on clinic days. We are inspired by them and we commit to working with them for our common good.

“Doctor if you don’t fix this for my son I will kill him. The pressure on me is too much”
“Doctor, my husband wanted me to kill this child but I refused’
“Doctor, I have been banished from my village because they say I am a witch”
“Doctor, I cannot work because buyers are afraid of my child’s deformity”

It is our hope that a Cleft Mothers support group can be inaugurated soon to play an advocacy role.
We have received financial support for our activities from many generous donors. These include individual philantropists, board members, students, churches, and corporate bodies. We have partnered with international charities including Smile Train, Children’s Surgery International, and Seattle Children’s Hospital. Recently MTN has agreed to support our outreach programmes for the next 12 months. Some philantropists adopt families and support them directly. Drug and surgical supply companies have donated medicines and other supplies towards out treatment programmes. The full listing of donors can be found on our website <www.ghanacleftfoundation.org>. We need more help so please commit to supporting our work. We hope government will also provide support for us.

We are committed to comprehensive care for patients. One of the challenges we face is the fact that our clinic operates one day a week. We wish to be able to see patients daily as they turn up. To this end the Ghana Cleft Foundation plans to construct a modern treatment facility in Kumasi dedicated to cleft care. This will be a centre of excellence for treatment, training and research. It will have attached to it hostel facilities for short term stay for mothers from distant locations. We aim to raise money over the next five years to construct this facility. We would appreciate it if a generous donor offers to construct it for us. We appeal to you all for your help.  We are looking to government to support us in this endeavor.

The success of the KATH Cleft Clinic should be emulated across the country to bring cleft care closer to where patients live. Aside Korle Bu and Komfo Anokye every Regional hospital should have a cleft service, manned by competent professionals. The Ghana Cleft Foundation is eager to play an advocacy role in this endeavor.  Ultimately our success will be measured by how readily accessible cleft services are throughout the country.

Your presence here inspires us to continue to dream.
Thank you all for your coming.



SPEECH BY ASHANTI REGIONAL MINISTER AT THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION OF KATH CLEFT CLINIC

Chairman and Chief Executive, Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital,   
President and Board Members, Ghana Cleft Foundation,
Honorable Mayor of Kumasi,
Mr Yaw Peprah, Benefactor
Ashanti Regional Chairmen of NDC, NPP
Members of Parliament,
Directors and Heads of Department,
Distinguished Invited Guests,
Our precious Parents and Patients,
Dedicated Cleft Care Professionals,
Members of the Press,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to be able to join you this morning to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital Cleft Clinic under the theme “10 years of Team Cleft Care in Ghana”

Cleft lip and palate deformity which is present at birth stigmatizes those affected and in some cases lead to break up of families. Feeding, medical, speech dental and several other problems may be present in the affected child. Such patients require the services of several specialists working as a team. These specialists include paediatricians, surgeons, nurses, dentists, orthodontists, nutritionists, speech therapists, social workers etc. It is heartwarming to know that children born with this condition can receive treatment here in Ghana by a team of local professionals. My information is that KATH and Korle Bu are the only centres where such patients can be cared for comprehensively.

To the Cleft professionals, please keep up with the good work you are doing. I urge you to endeavor to train more people to acquire your skills so that many more of such specialist clinics will be set up throughout Ghana.

It is the intention of government that health care reaches every corner of this country. We wish therefore to express the appreciation of the partnership between the KATH Clinic and the Ghana Cleft Foundation, a local NGO that facilitates the provision of care to poor families as well as conduct regular treatment outreach visits to other regions of Ghana. This is a positive indication of progress in our health care system.

I am sure that as a group you must have a number of challenges. The Regional Coordinating Council pledge to partner with you and assist in any way we can.  Please do not hesitate to contact my office for assistance.  I urge you to please keep me update on your activities.

To the families affected by this condition, I urge you to remain strong.  You should join the health workers to educate people about Cleft Lip and Palate so that those affected will seek care. The government is aware of the financial challenges you face as you seek care for your children and will do all in its power to ease your burden. 

I know there is a fundraising activity this morning. I urge you all to contribute generously to this laudable cause.

Thank you for your attention.


SPEECH BY MR. KWAKU SAKYI-ADDO, CEO, GHANA CHAMBER OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS & MEMBER OF THE BOARD, ON THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE GHANA CLEFT FOUNDATION.

I wish to express my personal pride and that of other members of the board on this happy occasion.

As citizens, as husbands and wives, and as parents, we’re often consumed by our own pressing needs.  Our time and our resources are often rather very limited.  And so it is easy for us to forget the trials, tribulations and afflictions that others in our communities suffer, such as children with cleft.

People with cleft, especially children – who are in position to support themselves or to even speak – suffer untold cruelty.  In some communities, people believe that a child with cleft carries an evil spirit, or is not even human.  Some babies with cleft are dumped in the forest and left to die; left to rot; left to be attacked and killed and eaten by a wild predator.

But children with cleft are children just like their parents and all adults once were.  And, indeed, with just a little care, kindness and support, children with cleft can be transformed and live normal happy lives. 

Cleft is not a disease that is peculiar to any one’s village.  Cleft is not peculiar to Ghana or Africa.  There are Europeans and Americans and Asians with cleft too.  Cleft is universal.

On behalf of the board, I wish to express my utmost admiration for Professor Peter Donkor and his team of surgeons, nurses and administrative staff for bringing hope to children whose lives were presumed to be hopeless; for restoring happiness to the rejected; for bringing peace to broken homes; joy to sullen hearts; for putting the smiles back to the faces of children, families and communities.

Very often, when we think of Angels, we think of celestial beings and heavenly characters from the Biblical or Quranic era.  When we think of Agenls we imagine beings with wings and floating in the clouds.  But for me and, I believe, the children who’ve had successful surgeries, and their happy parents, Professor Donkor and his team who established and run the Ghana Cleft Foundation are angels too.  Philanthropic organizations such as MTN Foundation and individuals such as Mr. Osei-Wusu Peprah, CEO of Assenta Properties, who fund the work of Ghana Cleft Foundation, are angels. 

The children thank.  Their mothers and fathers and wider families and communities thank you.  We are proud and humbled to be associated with you and the work of the Ghana Cleft Foundation.

To all of you who have made the time to be here to commemorate this occasion with us, we appreciate you.  You are here because you care.  We thank you.  Happy Anniversary!