Operation Smile Provides Free Surgery in South Africa September 7-16

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Children with facial deformities will benefit from medical mission in South Africa, Operation Smile's newest partner country. These free medical evaluations and reconstructive surgeries will take place from September 7-16, 2005.

An Operation Smile team of international medical volunteers will be in Empangeni, South Africa, from September 7-16, where they will provide free medical evaluations and reconstructive surgery to children suffering with facial deformities. More than 40 medical and non-medical volunteer team members, including plastic surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, a pediatrician, dentist, speech pathologist 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 South Africa, which is Operation Smile’s 25th mission country. The mission team, comprised of volunteers from South Africa, Brazil, Italy, Kenya, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, will work at Ngwelezana Hospital, in the northern KwaZulu-Natal Province. The medical team will conduct free public medical evaluations for patients on September 8th and 9th, followed by one week of surgery. Cleft lips and cleft palates are the fourth largest birth defect in the world and make it difficult for children to eat and speak.

This inaugural Operation Smile mission in South Africa has been made possible thanks to the efforts of a global network of health ministries, other organizations and individuals who advocate for improved healthcare. In March 2006, Operation Smile South Africa registered as a section 21 company and opened an office in Cape Town, South Africa. Professor Anil Madaree, head of plastic and reconstructive surgery at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Nelson R. Mandela’s School of Medicine, serves as Operation Smile South Africa’s Medical Director. Operation Smile South Africa’s Executive Director Natalie Miller said, “We are thrilled to have Professor Madaree’s experience, leadership and passion and we hope that more volunteers and South African corporate partners will help sustain the Foundation.” The mission is being carried out in collaboration with the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health and the locally based Star Smile Fund. Operation Smile South Africa plans to conduct local missions in rural areas across the country and ultimately build the Foundation into a regional hub for treating children throughout Southern Africa.    

In addition to working side-by-side with in-country doctors and nurses during international medical missions, Operation Smile volunteers also offer hands-on training and lectures during each international medical mission. During the mission in Empangeni, Operation Smile will conduct educational lectures and discussions to provide medical information to South African surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses. As a result of Operation Smile’s education programs, in more than half of its mission countries, doctors and other healthcare professionals use the Operation Smile mission model as a basis to conduct medical missions or year-round programs to treat children in their own countries on their own.

Operation Smile is a private, not-for-profit, volunteer medical services organization providing free reconstructive facial surgery and related healthcare to children. Medical volunteers repair childhood facial deformities while building public and private partnerships that advocate for sustainable healthcare systems for children and families. Operation Smile has traveled to 32 developing countries over the last 24 years, partnering with local physicians and institutions in order to build a legacy of trust, hope, health and dignity for more than 100,000 patients hoping for a chance at a normal life. For more information, visit http://www.operationsmile.org

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Katherine C. Taylor
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