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Facial Deformity Foundation solicits for establishment of school of Dentistry at university of Abuja to boost manpower

By Toyosi Ajayi


The federal government has been urged to establish   a school of dentistry at  the University of Abuja  to produce more  Dentists and Maxillofacial surgeons in order to boost manpower in tackling the problem of facial deformities in our region. Dr Seidu Bello, Executive Director of CLEFT AND FACIAL DEFORMITY FOUNDATION dropped the hint during the opening ceremony of the 27th edition of the free surgery craniofacial surgery held at UniAbuja Teaching Hospital in collaboration with TY Danjuma foundation.

Facial Deformities is a group of diseases that presents not just  body pain, but immense psychological disturbance brought by social stigmatization. Affected people are socially    dislocated, having their potentials decimated, hence special attention is needed.

From experience, facial deformities could be divided into four:

  1. Facial clefts (Cleft lip and Palate): Cleft lip and palate (CLP) are the commonest congenital deformities of the craniofacial region. It is a condition that affects every population of the world. It affects 1 in every 700 children all over the world. Facial cleft occurs as a result of disturbances of growth between 5 to 12 weeks intrauterine life of a fetus. The disturbances could be due to genetic or environmental factors. Environmental factors include radiation, malnutrition, hypervitaminosis, drugs, infection etc.

Cleft Palate refers to the opening at the roof of the mouth. It remains a challenge because even though not obvious, the patients can never speak well. It is advisable to repair before 2 years to allow for development of normal speech.

  1. Facial Tumor: Refers to various facial swellings that can occur, they are abnormal tissue growth outside the control of individuals They are acquired and the causes are unknown in most cases. This occurs at all ages.
  2. Locked Jaw {TMJ (Temporo mandibular joint) Ankylosis}: Refers to inability to open the mouth. Usually occurs as a result of ear infection in infancy that spread from the ear to the joint. It could also be due to trauma to the joint in infancy.
  3. Noma: This is a condition that presents with extreme facial distortion that can range from minor to some grotesque facial deformities. However, unlike cleft lip and palate, children are not born with Noma, instead it occurs as a result of childhood mouth disease that is occasioned by under-nutrition. The disease has been eliminated from the Western world by the end of 19th century, but is still persistent in Africa due to poverty and under-nutrition.

In summary all these entities have one thing in common: stigmatization, decimation of children potential, societal dislocation and ‘children out of school syndrome. This phenomenon has brought about the urgent need to establish school of Dentistry at the University of Abuja. This is presently lacking despite the rapid expansion of the school and other branches of medical sciences. Effective management of facial diseases requires continuous production of Maxillofacial surgeons which is a specialty of dentistry and which are in short supply nationwide, with a little less than 200 specialists in Nigeria. Establishment of school of dentistry at UniAbuja becomes easy, utilizing already existing medical training infrastructure and will reinforce postgraduate training of specialist Maxillofacial surgeon at the Teaching Hospital. There is a need for a deliberate effort to increase the work force by producing more dentists and maxillofacial surgeons across Nigeria especially in the face of massive exodus of doctors; there are just about 10 schools of dentistry across Nigeria producing less than 250 dentists yearly.

This amiable foundation has performed over 5000 free facial surgery out of 7000 people in attendance for the past 11 years of its existence.



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