LIFE | OPINION | SOCIAL SET
Putting a bright smile on children’s faces
Once the center is up and running, Operation Smile Philippines will be able to deliver surgical and comprehensive care to thousands of patients.
Way back in 1982, Doctor William Magee and his dedicated wife Kathleen, founders of Operation Smile, visited the Philippines with hopes of transforming the lives of children with cleft palate and lip by providing access to their specialties and safe surgery.
The Philippines has one of the world’s highest birth rates for children with cleft lip and palate, with an estimated over 200,000 cases. Despite the combined efforts of cleft organizations, there remains to be the increasing challenge of delivering surgical care, and there will always be one child that will be in need of care. While surgery is an effective solution for patients with cleft conditions, there are many social, structural and financial barriers that prevent Filipinos from accessing the care they need.
Several problems, to include malnourishment, respiratory tract infection, and others, hindered the Magees’ mission. They however promised to return and help more children. Upon their comeback, Operation Smile Philippines was born.
Meanwhile 30 years ago, philanthropist Mariquita Salimbangon Yeung, whose childhood dream was to assist Filipinos — and Cebuanos in particular — by providing them safe and accessible surgical care, established the MSY Foundation.
Both institutions have since come together to bring quality cleft care closer to patients in the Visayas. Together, they launched the largest global Comprehensive Care Center, which will provide comprehensive care to thousands of children and special training to medical professionals in cleft care.
Thus, the need for a Comprehensive Care Center in the Visayas has been a priority of Operation Smile Philippines. Cebu City Medical Center, which recently committed half of the floor of its new facility, together with local government units and the Department of Health, puts this laudable project on track.
Once the center is up and running, Operation Smile Philippines will be able to deliver surgical and comprehensive care to thousands of patients and teach and educate health care professionals on world-class surgical, pediatric, psychosocial, and speech therapy.
To raise much-needed funds for this grand and admirable endeavor, a formal sit-down fundraising dinner was hosted at the Marco Polo Plaza Hotel, culminating in an auction of art pieces, valuable antiques, desirable jewelries, sought-after furniture and dream travel packages. Although Cebuanos are perceived to be stingy, they reached deep into their pockets and bade their way beyond everyone’s expectations.
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