‘Operation Smile’ to offer free surgeries in Ilocos Norte

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LAOAG CITY – Operation Smile Philippines (OSP), in partnership with the Ilocos Norte Chapter of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), will be performing free surgeries for those with cleft lip, cleft palate, and other facial deformities on Apr. 1-5, 2019.

The operation will take place at the Governor Roque B. Ablan Sr. Memorial Hospital (GRASMH), Laoag City, from 8am to 5pm on the said dates. Interested patients can register their names at the PRC Office in Provincial Health Office building P. Gomez St., Laoag City, or contact the number listed below.

OSP is a volunteer-based, medical, non-government organization that focuses on providing free reconstructive surgery and related health services to children up to young adults afflicted with oral cleft (a gap in the mouth that did not close during the early stages of pregnancy). Their priority is to ensure safe and quality surgeries to poor and remote communities, where medical services are lacking or inaccessible.

Dr. Bobby Manzano of OSP shared that their advocacy “is all about transformation – about having a child with a very disadvantaged position in society turning their life into a better one through surgery.”

“Can you just imagine a child with a facial deformity? He would suffer from health complications and at the same time, psychological as well as mental problems,” he lamented. “Marami ang mga batang hindi pumupunta sa paaralan because they are being bullied. They suffer more, psychologically.”

Likewise, Dr. Roger Braceros, chief of GRASMH, pointed out that when left untreated, oral cleft can lead to malnourishment, difficulty with speech, and social isolation.

Oral cleft ranks as the 12th most common congenital defects in the country. More than 5,000 Filipinos are born with it every year.

OPS Executive Director Dr. Angel Mojica expressed her thanks to the Provincial PRC for supporting their efforts, saying they chose to partner with the said agency because “they are the ones who have connections to all the communities in the province.

Ang mga batang nakapila sa mission, kasama lahat ng pamilya, nanay, tatay, lola’t lolo. Lahat, gustong magamot ang kanilang anak. So ganun kalala ang problema ng walang medical surgeries na ginagawa dito [sa Pilipinas],” he added.

Interested patients may go directly to the PRC Ilocos Norte Office, or message “Edna” at 0908-865-8960.