In a world where countless barriers often separate individuals from their dreams and aspirations, the BelaRisu Medical Center stands as a beacon of hope, an institution dedicated to erasing one of the most significant hurdles in the lives of thousands – cleft lip and palate deformities. This special clinic, nestled in the heart of Nairobi County, has celebrated a remarkable milestone, having performed an astounding 7,000 cleft lip surgeries in just one year.
The BelaRisu Medical Center’s first-anniversary event was a testament to the remarkable work they’ve accomplished. Located on Park Road, Ngala, Nairobi County, this referral clinic has been tirelessly providing life-changing surgeries to children, young adults, and even the elderly, completely free of charge.
Dr. Martin Kamau, the CEO of the BelaRisu Foundation, revealed during the celebrations, “The clinic has performed 7,000 surgeries related to cleft lip and palate since its inception in September last year.” The dedication to providing dignified and hope-restoring surgeries to those affected by craniofacial deformities is the cornerstone of this institution’s mission. Dr. Kamau expressed his belief that every individual deserves a life free from the limitations imposed by craniofacial deformities.
Senator Ann Maina, the Guest of Honor at the event, commended the BelaRisu Foundation’s noble approach to offering life-changing surgeries and treatments. She emphasized the significance of these interventions, especially for children who would otherwise face a difficult and undignified life.
Cleft lip and palate, affecting one in 1,300 births, is a condition that cannot be ignored. However, Senator Maina emphasized that it is not a disability but rather a condition that can be corrected through surgery. Correcting a cleft palate is crucial to save children from stigma and enable them to lead normal, fulfilling lives.
The BelaRisu Medical Center’s commitment to equitable and accessible healthcare is a shining example. Dr. Kamau explained, “We offer realistic solutions that prioritize equitable, and accessible healthcare, focusing on delivering 1st world optimal care in a 3rd world setup.”
The event was also graced by survivors who shared their life-changing stories. Halima Osman, one such parent, expressed her gratitude for the transformation that her child, Sabrina Bishar, underwent at BelaRisu. She noted that the name “Bela Risu” is a Latin phrase meaning ‘beautiful smile’, which became a reality for her child in less than a month. The cost of the surgery, which would have been out of reach for many families, was generously provided for free.
While acknowledging the essential role played by Smile Train in the success of the BelaRisu launch, Kepha Omanga, representing Governor Johnson Sakaja, called for more research to address neglected surgical conditions. He assured personal support from the Governor and the County Government in this noble endeavor.
Dr. Kamau, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, highlighted the importance of early corrective surgery for cleft lip and palate, the most common birth defect in Kenya. He called for governments to create policies addressing these conditions and integrate them into their healthcare systems to support those affected.
In a rallying call to the government, Dr. Kamau stressed the need for universal healthcare access, even for those with low incomes. He firmly believes that the government should facilitate affordable access to healthcare for all Kenyans.
Cleft lip and palate is treatable, particularly when addressed before a child turns two. While many developed countries have even worked on unborn children with these deformities, in Kenya, the accessibility to such healthcare remains a challenge for many families.
Senator Maina drew attention to the lack of coverage for cleft lip and palate deformities by insurance companies, further emphasizing the importance of addressing this policy gap.
BelaRisu Medical Center, in partnership with Smile Train, is leading the charge in East and Central Africa by providing free cleft services to the less privileged. Over the past year, they have offered a comprehensive range of services, including surgeries, nutritional support, orthodontics, and speech therapy. Their dedication to creating smiles and restoring lives is a remarkable testament to the power of compassion and dedication.