About the appeal

As a further expansion to our Covid Response we are delivering a nutrition focused programme to ensure patients are kept healthy whilst they wait for surgery.

In October we were able to re-launched the mobilisation aspect of our year-round Cleft Programme with increased safety measures to protect against Covid for everyone involved. These measures include a dramatically reduced number of patients being mobilised for surgery at one time, so we can ensure social distancing is possible throughout the long journey from their homes in rural areas, to the hospital where they can receive treatment.

This has meant that the wait time for patients from being identified, to receiving treatment is longer than it would have been prior to the pandemic. From the period between March and October, more than 300 patients were identified as needing treatment for a cleft lip or palate, so there is a high number of patients waiting for their surgery.

We are finding more and more children in need of extra nutritional support ahead of their surgery and we endeavour to help as many of them as we can.

Periodically, areas of rural Ethiopia have had problems with food security. This is caused by many contributing factors, such as the natural environment being prone to drought and flooding. It is estimated that three quarters of Ethiopia’s population work in agriculture which provides the country’s food supply and an estimated half of the country’s GDP. On top of this, some rural areas have recently been hit by extreme flooding and locust swarms, which have swept through and destroyed farm land. Children born with cleft in rural areas face further difficulties with nutrition and from birth breast feeding can be very challenging for both mother and baby, because of the inability for the baby to have suction on the breast. Once the child is old enough for solid food, they may face further difficulties, especially if they have a cleft palate, as food can sometimes be rejected through the nose. 

What are we providing?

We have been working on this appeal with our fab volunteer dietitian, Natasha, who comes out to Ethiopia to help with nutrition on our Complex Surgical Mission. Natasha also delivered a series of workshops and lectures with our Programme Officers back in 2017, which were focused on cleft nutrition and breast feeding.

 Together we have put together a package containing items to optimise a child’s nutrition whist they wait for surgery, along with refresher training for Programme Officers and health workers operating in rural Ethiopia. The produce in the package will vary on availability in the area, but is focussed on promoting a varied and nutrient rich diet to encourage healthy weight gain.