managed by S. Steer (Communication)
Operation Smile South Africa (OSSA) is a non-profit, volunteer medical services organisation that provides free reconstructive facial surgery, dental care and speech therapy, as well as the necessary follow up health care to children and adults around Southern Africa with cleft lips and palates.
A cleft lip is a hole in the lip that has caused the lip to not fully form and a cleft palate is a hole in the roof of the mouth. These facial abnormalities are two of the most common severe birth defects in the world and are usually corrected shortly after birth in areas with sufficient access to health care. However, for most children in more rural or poorer parts of the world, medical treatment is not available. Often children suffering from cleft lips and palates cannot eat, speak, breathe or hear properly. An enormous stigma is attached to both facial deformities resulting in many sufferers to be shunned from society, barred from attending school and not accepted as a part of the community in general - even though their intelligence is not affected. Many live a life of isolation. All this can be changed in 45 minutes with a cleft lip surgery that changes a person’s life forever.
OSSA is part of a global medical non-profit organisation that has, over the past 25 years, treated over 115 000 children worldwide and currently has programs in over 40 partner countries. Operation Smile provides the infrastructure, supplies, training and expertise to help uplift rural health care and build capacity to ensure that the benefits of Operation Smile continue long after the mission team leaves to hospital.