The impact and threat of Covid-19 brought elective surgery in Ethiopia to a halt at the beginning of March 2020. This meant we were unable to mobilize patients in need of surgery and treatment for a cleft lip or palate. 

As we started to learn more about the virus and effective ways in which to prevent spread, we strategised Covid prevention measures that we could implement into our cleft programme in order to keep everyone involved in the programme delivery and everyone who accessed the service as safe as possible. In October of 2020 we were able to run a pilot cleft programme at a reduced capacity to facilitate measures such as social distancing and patient testing. Four patients and their guardians were brought to the capital - Addis Ababa, from a remote area of Oromia s and received cleft surgery successfully and safely. 

PHE are very satisfied with the outcome of this month’s pilot mission, all of the guardians who travelled to Addis expressed their happiness that their child would finally be able to receive the surgery they had been waiting for and the new measures implemented by PHE made them feel safe and secure despite the onset of the pandemic. The pilot also helped us identify the slight change in our patients’ needs, including increased nutritional supplementation and we are eager to address these needs and re-start out cleft programme with the highest standard of safety measures so we can help all of the patients who have been waiting for surgery during the pandemic.

- Amanuel Tafese, Executive Director of Project Harar Ethiopia 

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Chala and his son Moibon, before and after surgery