Humanitarian Activities of Interplast Turkiye: 6 Years of Experience in Uzbekistan for Surgical Treatment of Cleft Patients and Related Secondary Deformities

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Abstract

Cleft lip and palate (CL/P) is one of the leading congenital deformities among the world. Children born with CL/P experience problems with feeding, speech, hearing, and dentition. In developed countries, CL/P patients are receiving optimal health care involving multidisciplinary team approach and staged surgical operations, whereas in developing countries, there is severe shortage of both medical and financial sources. To overcome these limitations, humanitarian surgical missions are essential. The aim of this article is to share our experience of humanitarian surgical mission in Uzbekistan consisting of 6 consecutive visits between 2009 and 2014. The series of these humanitarian activities consisting of 6 consecutive visits was organized by the cooperation of Interplast Turkiye and governmental Turkish Coordination and Cooperation Agency. After initial evaluation, triage at the initial setting and prompt anesthesia evaluation among many more of them, 529 patients mostly with cleft, craniofacial, or congenital deformities were operated. The success of this type of mission is not solely based on the expertise of the team members, but also meticulous planning, patient selection, good coordination with the local colleagues and communication. At this point, caregivers attending from a culturally close and similar language-spoken countries will certainly have more advantages in achieving a mission. Volunteer surgical missions for congenital deformities can be an important relief for this burden in developing countries. Nevertheless, training the native surgeons and supporting the plastic surgery foundations in these countries are as important as providing the necessary health care by such humanitarian missions.

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