For more than 4,400 born in the United States this year, life will be noticeably more challenging. This is because that number is the current estimate of how many babies are born with a birth defect known as cleft lip or cleft palate in the U.S. annually. Thus, thousands of parents will have to watch their child struggle to eat, drink, and sometimes even breathe. That is, of course, until their infant can undergo surgery that will repair the problem.
For parents in other regions of the world, however, this type of assistance is simply non-existent. Meaning, relying on modern-day medicine, state-of-the-art resources, and brilliant doctors are impossible. Why? Because none of them are accessible. Take regions like Uganda or Ethiopia, per se. With more than a third of their populations living below the poverty lines, no amount of economic growth can help the society gain access to the necessary resources in a timely manner.
Help from the Outside
It is a basic tenant of human nature to help by offering assistance to those in need. This is why the concept of charity has been around for thousands of years and continues to thrive. It is also why the regions that may lack the adequate resources to help those who are suffering can rely on the outsiders for aid. So, how exactly does this connect to the previously introduced problem? Well, given that there are thousands of children suffering from a cleft lip or palate in poor countries, helping is much bigger than making oneself feel good. After all, absent aid from the outside, these infants may never have a chance at normal life.
What Does It Take to Treat Birth Defects in Underprivileged Societies?
To be able to put an end to conditions like the one discussed here, there are a few mandatory inputs that must exist. These include things like qualified medical personnel willing to help, donors who are happy to provide capital, facilitators of the transactions, translators and more.
– Medical Personnel
Having medical personnel that is trained and capable of conducting successful surgeries on patients with cleft lip/palate is the first important factor. Luckily, according to Dr. Mark Filstein, the number of working professionals who are eager to give back by volunteering is extremely high. In fact, he is one of the many surgeons who has been working with “Operation Smile” for over 20 years. Courtesy of their volunteering, children from some of the poorest countries on the planet have been able to overcome their birth defects.
– Willing Donors
Although people like Dr. Mark Filstein do not charge for their volunteer services, there are many other expenses related to the venture. For instance, flying out medical teams to regions where a child may need to have surgery can be very expensive. Not to mention the cost of medical supplies and toolkits that are required. Well, this is where those who want to contribute financially enter the scene. Donating to organizations like “Operation Smile” helps increase the funding for their missions. In other words, it can help a child receive a life-changing surgery that will empower them for the rest of their life.
– Service Facilitators
Of course, having donors and doctors who are willing to help will be futile without an efficient middleman. In this case, “Operation Smile” would be a perfect example. Besides finding children that need surgery, they facilitate donations that are needed to fund doctors who perform the medical procedures. So, their role is to jump-start the entire endeavor and make sure that the administrative side of things flows smoothly.
Hope Never Dies
Ultimately, hope is what continues to drive projects such as this forward. Without it, parents who reside in poor regions of the world and have a child that is suffering from a cleft lip or palate would give up. Similarly, organizations would not even try to raise money to help. Nevertheless, the fact that society believes in helping and hoping for the better is what leads to positive outcomes.