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

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

For over 21 years their volunteer medical team travels to Pakistan twice a year, for ‘cleft camps’, providing services and time free of charge; including IT and accountancy personnel in England. Fundraising and contributions from local hospitals in Hull and Grimsby in the UK help OPSA provide equipment and medicines for each camp, and 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 approximately one in 500 births, and about 10,000 children are born with the condition every year. OPSA now operates on approximately 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) and with the assistance of the Japanese Government. In addition, local plastic surgeons operate throughout the year, and the total number of surgical cases exceeds 500 per year.

As well as surgery, OSPA provides teaching and training to medical and nursing staff, and advice on the management of patients in their absence.

The objective is to ‘follow’ the child from birth through to adulthood, providing as many of the associated services which are necessary, given the resources available, e.g. dental care, speech therapy, hearing screening etc. Collectively OPSA’s aim is to deliver a service which is similar to that which children are offered in the UK, which is a holistic approach to their needs, treatment and care.

Speaking about the missions, Dr Chris Hill said, “It has been my privilege to travel with OPSA to the cleft hospital in Gujrat Pakistan every October for the past six years. The cleft hospital in Gujrat aims to provide cleft patients with the same standard of multidisciplinary cleft care that is available in the U.K. In addition to providing surgery for patients who would not otherwise be able to afford it I have 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.

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