News and Updates

OPSA mission provides treatment to children born with cleft lip and palate in Pakistan

The Overseas Plastic Surgery Appeal (OPSA) is a UK-based team of surgeons, nurses, operating department practitioners and speech therapists providing free treatment to underprivileged children with cleft lip and palate in Pakistan.

For over 21 years, their volunteer medical team has been travelling to Pakistan twice a year on ‘cleft camps’ where they provide services and time free of charge, including IT and accountancy expertise. Fundraising and contributions from local hospitals in Hull and Grimsby in the UK help OPSA provide equipment and medicines for each camp. Thanks to donations of Skywards Miles, air travel for their recent mission to Pakistan was supported by the Emirates Airline Foundation.

In Pakistan, cleft lip and palate affects around one in 500 births, and about 10,000 children are born with the condition every year. OPSA now operates on about 70 patients during each trip in the new purpose-built Cleft Hospital in Gujrat built by the Decent Welfare Society and the Pakistan Cleft Lip and Palate Association (PCLAPA), with assistance from the Japanese Government. In addition, local plastic surgeons operate throughout the year on more than 500 children.

As well as surgery, OPSA provides training to medical and nursing staff, and advice on the management of patients in their team’s absence.

The objective is to ‘follow’ the child from birth through to adulthood, providing as many of the necessary associated services for example dental care, speech therapy and hearing tests. OPSA’s aim is to deliver service similar to the holistic approach children receive in the UK.

Speaking about the missions, Dr Chris Hill said, “It has been my privilege to travel with OPSA to the Cleft Hospital every October for the past six years. The hospital aims to provide patients with the same standard of multidisciplinary cleft care that is available in the UK. In addition to providing surgery for patients who would not otherwise be able to afford it, I’ve been able to form links with local surgeons and trainees. I feel this is an even more valuable contribution as it will, I hope, enable me to pass on the skills which I was taught and the experience I have gained in 14 years as a consultant.”

If you would like to support missions like this one by donating Miles to the Emirates Airline Foundation, log in to your Emirates Skywards account.

Make a donation