Myanmar 14-20 March 2015
After six years of helping children in Thailand born with a cleft lip, cleft palate or both, Kids Action (KAFK) took a new step in its history, and went to Myanmar on 14-20 March 2015 to help more children receive free reconstructive surgeries. Patients and their parents came to the Naypyitaw 1,000 Bedded Hospital from different parts of the country including Bagan, Kayah, Magway, Mandalay, Mawlamyine and Taung Dwin Gyi. 221 children were screened and registered, of which 142 children received new smiles, under the formal invitation of the Myanmar Ministry of Health’s International Health Division
All of us at KAFK are excited to bring long lasting change to Myanmar and to be part of a Myanmar-Thai-Norwegian friendship through medical diplomacy.
In Naypyitaw, the cleft lip and cleft palate facial deformity surgeries were scheduled over five days and conducted by Operation Smile volunteer medical professionals in the lead of Dr. Apichai Angspatt, Head of Trauma and Chief Surgeon, Chulalongkorn Hospital in Bangkok, and Dr. Khin Maung, Chief Oral Surgeon, Naypyitaw 1,000 Bedded Hospital. The surgeries were divided to different groups according to their priority as follows:
- Priority 1 – Primary cleft lip of any age (106 patients)
- Priority 2 – Primary cleft palate up to the age of 6 years (28 patients)
- Priority 3 – Primary cleft palate above the age of six (3 patients)
- Priority 4 – Revision cleft lip or palate surgeries (4 patients)
- Priority 5 – Non cleft surgery (e.g. burn contracture release) (1 patients)
The team of KAFK volunteers and supporters travelling to the capital of Myanmar consisted of nearly 20 people from seven different nationalities, representing KAFK Thailand, its younger “Kids”, and High School Clubs from International School of Bangkok and American School of Singapore, college students, parents and other volunteers. The nationalities represented were Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, Turkish, American, Thai and Korean – a lovely, committed and entertaining group in all!
KAFK team felt the needs of families and children will stay with them forever. Some of the families had travelled several days to receive any help for their children, and some children had been sent alone with a group. The children were heart-breakingly happy to receive small toys, colouring paper and pencils that none of them had there, perhaps not at home either.
Approximately 1 out of every 700 live births in Myanmar results in a child with a facial deformity. Operation Smile estimates that 50-60,000 people in Myanmar live with unrepaired cleft lip and cleft palate deformities. Cleft lip and cleft palate is a genetic deformity occurring throughout the world, but more prevalent in low-income countries where mothers are exposed to external factors, such as smoking, drugs, alcohol, cooking over wood burning stoves, that are not properly ventilated outside the home, and lack of a nutritious diet – during pregnancy.
To see more photos from the Myanmar surgery mission, please look at our posting here.