Over 400 children born with cleft lip have had free surgery via Cleft Lip and Palate Project in Miri

Lee (centre) with other guests on stage with the patients who had received treatment via the project.

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By Jaythaleela K

MIRI, Dec 13: More than 400 children, especially the poor in Sarawak, who are born with a cleft lip and palate have had plastic surgery done for free since 2004 via the Cleft Lip and Palate Project in Miri.

“The surgeries have given a new life to many patients from throughout Sarawak who have now grown up as part of the community, which is amazing to see,” said Minister of Transport Sarawak Datuk Sri Lee Kim Shin on Monday night at the launch of CLAPHAS or Cleft Lip and Palate Help Association Sarawak.

Cleft Lip and Palate Project in Miri was started 18 years ago, in collaboration with Cleft Lip and Palate Association of Malaysia (CLAPAM), Columbia Asia Hospital Miri and a team of volunteer doctors from Kuala Lumpur who made the project possible.

“From the beginning of this cleft lip and palate project, I’ve always been supporting and attended most of the events including fund raising and donated towards the project,” Lee said.

Impressed with the team’s achievements and the success of the project in restoring smiles to children born with the cleft lip and plate, he said many had suffered tremendous physical and mental stigma due to late and overdue operations.

“I’m indeed very glad that we have a local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) like CLAPHAS that is formed in Sarawak to complement the government hospital services, to help the less fortunate that needs plastic surgery for children affected by the condition.

“I know there are many poor families who can’t afford the costs of plastic surgery operations and many families who are located in the rural areas have logistics problems to come to the government hospitals in Miri for an appointment,” Lee pointed out.

The team not only provides the free surgical services but they also help the child and parents with regards to transport and logistics to travel for the operation.

CLAPHAS was formally registered under the Registrar of Societies (ROS) on Jan 14, 2021. — DayakDaily