One child in every 700 worldwide is born with a cleft lip or palate. Cleft lip and palate is a complex developmental problem in babies where the upper lip or palate (roof of the mouth) is not correctly joined. A cleft lip creates a opening in the upper lip between the mouth and nose, and looks like there is a split in the lip. A cleft palate creates an opening in the palate - the roof of your mouth.
Babies with a cleft lip can become severely malnourished as they are unable to suckle and may be prone to choking. Left untreated, a child with a cleft may not learn to speak properly and can suffer hearing problems.
As well as the daily communication and physical difficulties, cleft children can confront great social stigma. Many individuals with a facial difference are often ostracised by their communities, and can even be denied their right to a school place, or forced to drop out of school due to bullying.
Babies who are born with a cleft condition in the UK are operated on soon after birth, but in most of Ethiopia this does not occur. Although treatment is freely available in some hospitals, the communities we work with are either unaware of the treatment or cannot access it due to distance and cost.
Project Harar has provided access to surgery for more than 8,000 children and young people with cleft lip and palate since it was founded and is now aims to treat around 1,100 patients a year. In order to expand our reach, we have trained 9,500 government health workers, building their capacity to identify and refer patients to Project Harar.
Project Harar is committed to providing comprehensive and sustainable cleft care in Ethiopia, you can read about this in more detail by selecting the options below.
A film about families who had travelled from remote areas of Ethiopia to access treatment for cleft lip and palate. This is our first ever film about our cleft programme, filmed in February 2020
Read about the adaptations to our Cleft Programme and the new safety measures we have implemented
Read more about the components of our sustainable cleft care programme
A short film about our cleft and outreach programme
Speech and language therapy is a vital component of our cleft work. Read more about what we do.