Sabah's Mass Cleft Surgery Initiative gives patients new hope

TAWAU: Nine-year-old Alpin Aco refused to attend school, ashamed of being made fun of his cleft lip and palate.

This, however, is likely to be history, said his father Aco Beddu Asse, 38, as the youngster is scheduled for corrective surgery tomorrow.

"Thank God, after waiting over two years, tomorrow he will undergo surgery.

"I hope it will be successful so that he can live life like any other normal children," he said when met at the launch of the 2022 Mass Cleft Surgery Initiative at the Tawau Hospital here today.

The event was officiated by Sabah Community Development and People's Welfare minister Datuk Shahelmey Yahya.

Present was Sabah State Health Department director Datuk Dr Rose Nani Mudin.

Shahelmey said the programme was expected to raise awareness among the community and parents of cleft lip children, in that the condition can be treated if corrected at an early stage.

"I call for more agencies or non-governmental organisations to take part and cooperate in implementing programmes to help the community, especially those related to wellbeing and health," he said.

Dr Rose Nani said the main purpose of launching the 2022 Mass Cleft Surgery Initiative was to reduce the backlog of the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Department at the Tawau Hospital.

She said because of the Covid-19 pandemic, as many as 70 elective surgeries, including 50 cases involving cleft surgeries, were postponed.

"In conjunction with the launch of this programme, 10 of the 24 patients scheduled for surgery at a cost of RM40,000 will be financed and borne through the funds provided by the Rotary Club of Tanjung Tawau."

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