17 firms help put smile on faces of kids with cleft lips, palates
Join forces to help sustain Operation Smile's tireless efforts in the Kingdom
Many more children with cleft lips and cleft palates will get the chance of a lifetime to put a real smile on their faces now that Operation Smile has kicked off its “Bright Smiles & Happy Hearts” campaign.
They will be able to receive corrective surgery from the non-governmental organisation thanks to support from 17 leading companies in Thailand, which signed a memorandum of understanding at the Okura Bangkok Hotel last Monday.
Operation Smile Foundation (Thailand) said thousands of patients in remote regions of the country were waiting for life-changing surgery to cure cleft lips and palates, and that support from the new alliance of 17 companies would go towards helping to sustain surgery and preventive medical care services.
The companies are Total Access Communication (DTAC), Krungthai Card, Nation Multimedia Group, Indorama Ventures, Benchachinda Holding, SF Corp, Ricoh (Thailand), Dusit International, AEON Thailand Foundation, Dailynews, Huawei Technologies (Thailand), Bangkok Bank, Eltek Power, Progressive Inter-Trade, Unique Telecom, Tisco Financial Group, and Jay Mart.
Helped more than 8,000
Kevin J Beauvais, chairman of Operation Smile Foundation (Thailand), said that to date, the local branch of the international NGO had helped more than 8,000 underprivileged children by improving their lives through the surgical operations and other care provided by Operation Smile Thailand’s tireless volunteers.
“However, our data collection and analysis revealed that there are more patients, both registered and unregistered, waiting for medical attention.
“This means that there are still a large number of patients throughout the country whom we have not yet reached.
“The ‘Bright Smiles & Happy Hearts’ campaign is the result of Operation Smile Thailand’s data-gathering fieldwork and analysis of how we can best serve all patients,” he added.
Assistant professor Dr Apichai Angspatt, Operation Smile Thailand’s field operations director, said that statistically, about one in every 700 children was born with a cleft lip or a cleft palate, with some children having both.
In Thailand, some 2,000 babies are born with a cleft lip or cleft palate each year.
“A cleft lip or cleft palate may also contribute to other physical conditions, such as hearing problems, chronic ear infections, malnutrition, dental problems, and speech impediments.
“A cleft condition may also affect a child’s emotional and mental development, which can lead to additional problems in the future,” he explained.
The “Bright Smiles & Happy Hearts” campaign will involve:
_ The provision of integrated care to cleft lip and cleft palate patients through the Cranio-facial Centre of Chiang Mai University. The centre will build a network of medical professionals of pertinent specialties, educate patients, and build a medical care information database through which it will address each patient’s barriers to cleft care.
This part of the campaign will be implemented in eight northern provinces during its first three years, then expanded to nationwide coverage within five years.
_ The creation of 1,200 smiles in the five regions of the Kingdom.
This aspect of the project encompasses an often-overlooked aspect of truly successful surgical transformations for children with cleft lips and cleft palates – post-surgery follow-up care such as speech therapy and dental services, that allows a child to fully eat and properly speak, often for the first time.
_ The development of applications and software programs that provide updated and correct information.
Through this aspect of the programme, the caretakers of children with cleft lips and palates can access information and learn how to provide appropriate, primary, and first-aid care through the following software:
An application that educates parents about how to care for their children during both pre-birth and after-birth periods, including information about proper nutrition and how to feed a child with a cleft lip or cleft palate.
A speech therapy application that allows professionals to access information, train parents, and assist them during speech therapy.
_ The sponsorship of medical equipment and tools.
This straightforward, yet crucial, aspect of the programme ensures that modern medical equipment tools that are in good working condition are available to patients and medical volunteers, thereby ensuring that all medical care provided is as efficient and effective as possible.
_ The provision of medical training and education to ensure updated, sustainable medical care.
This aspect of the programme ensures that medical volunteers and Operation Smile Thailand employees receive the latest training for the fieldwork of organising and providing medical operations in often remote and underdeveloped locales.
The training provided will include basic first aid, such as that provided by the American Heart Association in Thailand, and scholarships that enable volunteer doctors to attend international seminars and receive necessary continuing medical-specialty training.
“We are extremely confident that the ‘Bright Smiles & Happy Hearts’ campaign will, through the integration of each organisation’s capabilities, be able to create new smiles and provide assistance to children in need in a more comprehensive way, throughout the country,” said Beauvais.