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Improving the qulaity of life for people living with disabilities

Improving the quality of life for people living with disabilities

This life saving surgery has changed little Lidya's life

It is a warm day in Dar es Salaam and two year old Lidya is sitting with her mother on the crowded Orthopaedic Ward at CCBRT Disability Hospital, awaiting surgery that will change her life. Lidya’s mother is holding her close, and comforting her before the daunting procedure.

When Lidya was born with a cleft lip, her mother didn’t understand what had happened. “I have 10 children and none of them have health problems. It is only Lidya who was born with this strange condition. When I first saw her I was very worried about what was wrong.”

The most immediate concern for a child with cleft lip is good nutrition. Infants with cleft lip have difficulties forming the seal necessary for proper breastfeeding. Feeding difficulties can continue past breastfeeding age, as the poorly formed roof of the mouth can cause regurgitation and choking. Repairing clefts is also vital to support normal speech.

Irish Aid funding helps thousands of people with disabilities around the world

Cleft lip is a widely misunderstood condition in Tanzania. Many families do not understand that the condition is treatable with a simple surgical procedure, which is provided free of charge at the CCBRT Disability Hospital. “When I was growing up, I used to see children, even adults with the same condition as Lidya, but I didn’t know what it was.”

It was not until Lidya’s family were introduced to one of CCBRT’s Ambassadors that they realised that help was available, and that Lydia would not have to live with her impairment for the rest of her life.                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Awaiting the surgery, Lidya’s mother became increasingly convinced that she had done the right thing in bringing Lidya for treatment, “I have confidence in the doctors and nurses at CCBRT. Since our arrival I have seen several children being taken into theatre and afterwards their lips have been fully repaired. I will be very happy to see Lidya receive help, and I am very grateful to CCBRT and its partners for the support.”

Ireland is a longstanding supporter of CCBRT Disability Hospital. In 2014, €700,000 in funding will be provided to support the provision of equitable access to affordable, quality medical and rehabilitative services for people living with disabilities. 

 Ireland’s support enables CCBRT to provide surgical and outpatient services for ophthalmology, obstetric fistula, orthopaedics and reconstructive surgery such as Lidya’s. In 2013, CCBRT was supported in conducting over 11,000 life-changing surgeries.