BACOLOR -- International medical charity group Operation Smile has shipped eight metric tons of medicines and medical supplies plus three metric tons of medical equipment valued at US$1.3-million, roughly P58.1-million, for its mega mission "Gift of Smiles", which kicked off last June 12 and will run until June 20 simultaneously in Bacolor, Pampanga, Bacolod City, Cebu City, Davao City and Manila.

This was disclosed by Operation Smile Country Director of Development for the Philippines (Asia Regional Office) Roberto Manzano, who said that the shipment will be used to treat some 750 cleft lip and cleft palate indigent patients this month.

"The supplies and equipment have been broken down and shipped separately to the five 'gift of smiles' mission sites at Sta. Ana Hospital in Manila, Ricardo Rodriguez Memorial Hospital in Bacolor Pampanga, Our Lady of Mercy Specialty Hospital in Bacolod City, Adventist Hospital in Cebu City, and the Brokenshire Hospital in Davao City," he said.

Manzano told Sun.Star Pampanga that along with the shipment are hundreds of volunteer plastic surgeons, anesthesiologists, pediatricintensivists, pediatricians, dentists, nurses, speech pathologists, biomedical technicians, child-life psychologists, medical records specialists and patient imaging technicians.

"We have about 301 highly trained and experienced cleft care professionals from around the world, 18 countries to be exact, who will carry out the mega mission. Operation Smile International is harnessing its vast network to help in reducing the high prevalence of cleft deformities. There has been a backlog of about 80,000 cases worldwide, which we mean to address. In Pampanga and nearby provinces in Central Luzon, about 110 will undergo the 45-minute surgery then post-surgical treatment," added Manzano.

The vast resources required for the mission, he said, are pooled from donors and benefactors worldwide.

"We want to bring that smile back on children's and patients' faces. In doing so, we give them back the gift of life and a good future," Manzano said. (JTD)