Cleft is not a curse but a medical problem that could be treated, Professor Peter Donkor, the President of the Ghana Cleft Foundation said on Tuesday.

Scientifically, Prof Donkor explained though the causes of cleft remained unknown, the nation had highly skilled surgeons to perform cleft surgeries.

Cleft surgeries, he added, were conducted free of charge and appealed to parents with cleft children not to hide their babies in homes but contact the Foundation.

Prof Donkor, also the Director of the Cleft/Craniofacial Clinic of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), gave the advice at a media workshop in Kumasi, organised by Smile Train, a non-governmental organization.

The Smile Train is organising the two-day workshop on the theme: "the role of the media in cleft awareness in Ghana" to empower Journalists, as key stakeholders, to intensify community awareness on cleft and other essential care and services.

The NGO is the world largest cleft-focused organisation providing training, funding and resources to empower local medical professionals in 70 counties to provide free cleft surgeries and other forms of essential care in local communities.

Prof Donkor regretted that because babies born of cleft were often linked to witchcraft, wizardly or family curse, cases often turned to disrupt families, explaining that cleft was a defect that could easily be treated through surgeries.

Mrs Nkeiruka Obi, the Vice President and Regional Director, Africa, Smile Train explained the NGO started operation in the country in 2007, and it had supported the Ghana Cleft Foundation to conduct free surgeries for 2,146 children born with a cleft.

She expressed discomfort about the high level of public stigmatization and discrimination of cleft children.

Mrs Obi indicated her NGO's commitment to conduct more surgeries for the children and called on the media to help identify these children in local communities.

She also called on the media to scale up community education on cleft to dispel the erroneous public perception and theories to control societal stigma.