The Operation Smile Philippines (OpSmile), with the aid of its local partner-sponsors, is set to make Palawan the first cleft-free province in the country, says Roberto Manzano, OpSmile’s Country Director of Development, Philippines.
“We stand to that dream. We are committed to make that creed come true with the help and support of the entire community. Of course with the help of our partners and sponsors, we are confidently hopeful,” Manzano said.
Based on statistics, 5,000 Filipinos or 1 in 500 babies, are born each year with oral deformity. In Palawan, Provincial Health Officer Dra. Mary Ann Navarro said in a previous interview that based on general assessment less than 10% of children born every year in the province has cleft lip or cleft palate.
OpSmile have already conducted cleft surgeries in Palawan in 2006 and 2007, which benefited 51 and 31 patients respectively. In August 2016, OpSmile’s partnership with Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation (RTNMC) and Coral Bay Nickel Corporation (CBNC), with the support of the provincial government of Palawan and local government of Taytay, has initiated free oral surgeries to 47 clef lip or clef palate patients at Northern Palawan Provincial Hospital (NPPH) in Taytay, Palawan.
As of this writing, Opsmile, with RTNMC/CBNC, Prov’l govt, LGU Brookes Point, is conducting a second batch of free oral surgeries at the Southern Palawan Provincial Hospital, which will run until November 11 and is expected to cover not less than 75 patients.
Myra Relacion, 6 months old, from Panitian Quezon is one of the target beneficiaries of OpSmile but according to Manzano, based on their screening, the baby needs major facial cleft operation in Manila to give her holistic care. Amalia, Myra’s mother, is beyond words in expressing her gratitude for the help they are getting. Myra was actually registered for operation in the first batch of oral surgical mission in Taytay last August, but she was underweight. RTNMC/CBNC personnel billeted Myra and her family at RTN Hospital for more than a month to ensure that the baby will not get sick and will weigh normal to qualify for the operation.
Former Board Member Ernesto Llacuna, Executive Director for External Affairs of RTNMC/CBNC, extended gratitude to all partners who made the two-in-a-row oral surgical mission successful. “This is already beyond our mandate, but in the name of service to humanity, we are committed to fulfill one of our long-lasting legacies to the people of Palawan,” he said.
OpSmile with RTNMC and CBNC as partner-sponsor is planning to conduct another free oral surgery in the province in 2017.