HealthCommentary

Exploring Human Potential

Operation Smile Harnesses Resources and Skills for Haiti

Posted on | January 27, 2010 | No Comments

Mike Magee

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With the unprecedented disaster in Haiti, Americans from all walks of life have responded in any way they could to lend support. As the immediate rescue activities have come to an end, infrastructure and health care have entered center stage. Traditional NGO’s with a focus on clean water, shelter, food and avoidance of infectious disease have been there from the start. Along with the military from a variety of nations, they have focused on stabilizing the situation, maintaining order, and calming a fragile population.

But what of the thousands of injured who require surgery imminently? How can all of their needs be met? Part of the answer is coming from a dedicated group of surgical volunteers who for 28 years have focused on the developing worlds need for cleft palate repair in children. I know of the group’s work because it is led by my brother and sister-in-law, Bill and Kathy Magee.

Operation Smile is known for its 28-year history of providing cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries in developing countries and is not traditionally a disaster relief organization. However, the organization is uniquely suited to quickly mobilize medical volunteers from around the world to provide assistance in crisis situations such as what is occurring in Haiti right now. With over 4,000 Operation Smile credentialed medical volunteers and a presence in over 50 countries, the organization has immediate access to trained surgical and medical professionals that have experience working in difficult environments. The Operation Smile logistics team is also skilled in deploying and organizing highly functional field hospitals across the globe.

Operation Smile has been putting the Haiti mobilization plan together since the earthquake struck according to Co-founder and CEO Dr. Bill Magee, who stated, “We have the opportunity to make both an immediate and long-term impact in Haiti with our specialized surgical team. We are committed to helping the people of Haiti, who have become part of the Operation Smile family, and who now need our help even more.”  We can’t follow the activities of all the US surgical volunteers responding each day to Haiti’s needs, many of whom are coordinated through the American College of Surgeons’ “Operation Giving Back” under the skillful direction of Kathleen Casey MD.  But we will follow Operation Smile’s journey. Look to Health Commentary each day for posts of their progress, and for an inside view of the courage, resilience and recovery of the Haitian people. (CONTINUE…)
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