Drawing smiles, one face at a time

Safaa Abdoun
4 Min Read

CAIRO: Operation Smile Egypt is back in action. For the fourth year running, the non-profit organization will bring a team of medical professionals from around the world to Cairo, offering free examinations and surgeries to children and young adults suffering from cleft lips or cleft palates.

“Facial deformities in children is a growing problem in Egypt that people are unaware of, said Dr Mohamed El Shazly, a plastic surgeon and chairman of Operation Smile Egypt.

“According to the World Health Organization (WHO) one of every 600 children has a facial deformity, which is a really high number . around 36,000 to 40,000 of these children still didn’t get any medical examination or surgery.

“Our objective is to make these people aware that our organization offers the examination and the surgery free of charge and draw a smile on the children’s faces, explained El Shazly.

The team will be in Cairo at the Arab Contractors Medical Center starting Thursday Oct. 23 and until Thursday Oct. 30. The examinations will be conducted over two days, Oct. 23 and Oct. 24 and the surgeries will start on Oct. 25 and run through Oct. 30.

The team’s role is not only limited to the examinations and the surgeries but will also prepare the children psychologically to deal with society.

The project is organized in cooperation with the Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population and the Arab Contractors Medical Center.

There are more than 60 volunteers involved in this project, including Egyptians and foreigners, doctors and experts in the field. There are 44 foreign medical professionals from Canada, the United States, Italy and Jordan, which include doctors, surgeons and nurses.

This is the international team’s fifth time in Egypt; their last visit was in Upper Egypt where they operated on 280 children.

Operation Smile Egypt is currently focusing on three regions in Egypt; the Delta, Cairo and surrounding cities and Upper Egypt. The international team of professionals will go to a different place once every four months.

El Shazly explains that they will also be organizing a team of local professionals to go around the country as the international team is on a tight schedule and can only operate on 30 children per day for five days. But the local team, which will be brought together three to five times every year, will be able to operate on more than 2,000 children in each place.

Their mission is to make more than 36,000 children in Egypt able to smile. Their next visit will be to a coastal governorate during the first half of 2009.

Operation Smile Egypt is part of the international Operation Smile Inc. which works on repairing children’s facial deformities while building public and private partnerships that advocate for sustainable healthcare systems for children and families.

Racing the Planet, an organization for international sporting events, will be sponsoring this mission which coincides with their Sahara Race 2008. For every $240 donation made by a Sahara Race 2008 competitor, Operation Smile will provide the donor, on-site during the screening, with a medical wristband to be given to an Egyptian child who has been selected for surgery. The presentation of a wristband is a symbol of hope for hundreds of children living with facial deformities who seek help around the world.

For more information about Operation Smile Egypt, call: 012-524-8489 or 012-760-6041.

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