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.
infants born with cleft conditions can become severely malnourished as they are unable to suckle and may be prone to choking. Left untreated, a child with a cleft condition may not learn to speak properly, can suffer hearing problems and continue to struggle with adequate nutritional intake.
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.
infants 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 9,500 children and young people with cleft lip and palate since it was founded. In order to expand our reach, we have trained 9,500 government health and social 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.
Nutrition is a vital part of cleft care. A cleft lip and palate can make feeding for infants extremely difficult, this is often combined with food insecurity which affects rural and disadvantaged areas of Ethiopia.
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
Our commitment to comprehensive cleft care in Ethiopia
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.