In spite of continuing efforts by charitable organizations and even the government, there remains a constant demand for free cleft lip and palate surgery missions in the Philippines. In light of this, on September 29, 2019, an international team of surgeons and medical professionals will arrive in Manila courtesy of the Alliance for Smiles, a non-governmental organization committed to treating those afflicted with cleft lip and palate in developing countries. They will perform free corrective surgery on 100 patients, all of whom will come from underprivileged Filipino families.
Until medical science has found a way to prevent it, and because it is ever prevalent, there will always be a constant demand for cleft palate corrective surgery. In the Philippines today, many poor children with uncorrected cleft lips and palates live in isolation. Most have difficulty eating, hearing, breathing and most especially speaking. Children who have to live with the anomaly are almost always tormented by other children and even adults, this results in far-reaching, and often lifelong emotional trauma.
It is for this reason that cleft lip and palate corrective surgery needs to be done early. Children need to be spared the torment, and emotional scarring that so often come from the way society mistreats children with cleft lips and palates. Doctors from Alliance for Smiles recommend cleft lip corrective surgery for patients as early as 3-4 months old, and when there is a cleft palate or both cleft palate and lip, at between 18 to 24 months.
Cleft lip and palate occurs in 1.94 out of every 1000 children born in the country. In 2016 there were 1,731,289 births in the Philippines. That means that there were about 3,350 Filipinos born with the condition just in that year. This is why although Alliance for Smiles is not the only organization that offers free cleft lip and palate corrective surgery, there will always be a need for it at any given time of any year as children reach the critical age at which the surgery should be done.
Part of the problem with cleft lip and palate is that because this issue can be solved on a case to case basis, we take it for granted. Cleft lip and palate isn’t a medical mystery for which there is no cure, like cancer. It isn’t a lingering, degenerative ailment like diabetes or even depression. However, it is precisely because cleft lip and palate can be solved that every case possible should be solved as soon as possible.
The Alliance for Smiles medical mission will be conducted at Rizal Medical Center and will run from September 29 to October 12, 2019. This has been made possible through a partnership with Rotary Club International and a special multi-district collaboration involving Districts 3830 and 3800, spearheaded by RC Makati GEMS and RC Pasig with the support of its official hospital partner, Rizal Medical Center and its official media partners, Philippine Star, Philippine Daily Inquirer, and Manila Bulletin.