Operation Smile Collaborates with Peace Corps, UNICEF and Tostan to Help Children Born with Cleft Lips and Cleft Palates
An Operation Smile team of international medical volunteers will be in Thies, Senegal, from December 13-21, where they will provide free physical examinations and reconstructive surgery to children suffering with facial deformities. More than 40 Operation Smile medical and non-medical volunteer team members, including plastic surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, and others, will care for children who suffer from cleft lips, cleft palates and other facial deformities. This is Operation Smile’s first medical mission in the country of Senegal. Operation Smile volunteers from Australia, Canada, France, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Morocco, Scotland, the United Kingdom and United States, will work at the Regional Hospital of Thies. The medical team will conduct free physical examinations for patients on December 13 and 14, followed by free surgeries on December 15-19. Post-operative exams will be performed December 20 and 21.
Cleft lips and/or cleft palates occur in approximately 1 per 500-700 births in the world. More than 100,000 children are born with a facial deformity each year in Operation Smile partner countries. Operation Smile also conducts medical missions in Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Morocco, South Africa and Swaziland.
The mission has been sponsored by and organized in coordination with the Ministry of Health of Senegal and has been made possible with the support of Minister of Health Dr. Safiatou Thiam Sy and several ministerial employees. Operation Smile received assistance in the planning and implementation of the mission from the Peace Corps in Senegal, UNICEF and Tostan, a non-governmental organization empowering African communities to bring about sustainable development and positive social transformation based on respect for human rights. All three organizations, in addition to the Ministry of Health, were instrumental in the mission’s advertising campaign, which consisted of distribution of 1,000 posters throughout the country, as well as radio and television announcements. In addition, a press conference following the mission will be held on December 20.
The Peace Corps facilitated the receiving of cargo and has offered use of their center in Thies to provide housing for potential patients. Peace Corps volunteers helped locating patients throughout the region and will assist in transporting them to the site. Tostan has been an invaluable partner, from helping arrange transportation to offering the use of its regional
education and training facility in Thies to house the medical team. Accor Properties, owners of the Sofitel and Novotel hotels, made a donation of $52,833 (41,000 EUR) for the Senegal mission. In addition, the Italian Soccer League contributed $38,660 (30,000 EUR). These partnerships have played a crucial role in the successful planning and execution of this inaugural medical mission.
Gianluca Biavati, Operation Smile Regional Vice President for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said, “Thanks to the leadership and the support of our foundations like South Africa, Kenya and Morocco, Operation Smile is experiencing an unprecedented growth in Africa. Senegal is the first program we are conducting in Western Africa, soon followed by Liberia and Ghana. Accor foundation has played a crucial role into making our inaugural mission happen by raising 41000 Euros through its ‘Seasons Greetings’ campaign conducted in all the brands affiliated to Accor Services.” Biavati adds, “Operation Smile is extremely proud to collaborate with Tostan, Peace Corps and UNICEF. Together, we hope to be able to touch the lives of many children not only in Senegal, but in additional countries in Western Africa where these organizations have a presence and are interested in supporting Operation Smile's growth.”
In August 2008, Operation Smile medical professionals from Morocco and the United States conducted an inaugural Basic Life Support (BLS) training in Dakar for health care providers from three hospitals in Senegal; 67 received BLS certification. Operation Smile is the only organization authorized by the American Heart Association to function as a global and mobile International Training Organization (ITO). This program also provided an opportunity to build important relationships with Senegalese medical professionals.
About Operation Smile (www.operationsmile.org)
Founded in 1982, Operation Smile, headquartered in Norfolk, Virginia, is a worldwide children’s medical charity whose network of global volunteers are dedicated to helping improve the health and lives of children and young adults. Since its founding, Operation Smile volunteers have treated more than 120,000 children born with cleft lips, cleft palates and other facial deformities and currently work in 51 countries. In addition to contributing free medical treatment, Operation Smile trains local medical professionals in its partner countries and leaves behind crucial equipment to lay the groundwork for long-term self-sufficiency.
Media Notes: To receive images, b-roll footage or additional information, or to request an interview with an Operation Smile spokesperson, please contact Lisa Jones at email@example.com or 757-321-3252.