By Freddie Lazaro
LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte – Operation Smile Philippines (OSP) is partnering with the local chapter of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) to offer free surgery for those with cleft lip, cleft palate, and other facial deformities from April 1-5.
The operation will take place at the Governor Roque B. Ablan Sr. Memorial Hospital (GRASMH) here from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Interested patients can register at the PRC Office in Provincial Health Office building on P.Gomez St., or contact the number listed below.
OSP is a volunteer 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).
Its 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 said 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,” Manzano said, “There’s a lot of children that did not enroll to schools because they are being bullied. They suffer more, psychologically.”
Dr. Roger Braceros, chief of GRASMH, said that when left untreated, oral cleft can lead to malnourishment, speech difficulty, 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.