In the isolated island nation of Madagascar, one of the world’s poorest countries, there are very few non-governmental organisations supporting the connection of impoverished patients with essential health care services. Here, malnutrition is a widespread health hazard and a significant barrier to surgery for many young patients. At this medical mission, 113 of the more than 500 children who received a pre-operative health evaluation were unable to receive surgery due to malnutrition. In response to this dire need, Operation Smile in Madagascar runs a patient feeding programme to help underweight and malnourished children get the nutrition they need to become healthy enough to receive surgery.
For many families here, their presence at the mission site requires a major sacrifice of precious resources like time missed away from work. Operation Smile Programme Officer Morgan Bober: “Operation Smile in Madagascar continues to take our responsibility to care for the Malagasy people to the next level. Our team is committed to relieving patients’ financial burdens by assisting with transportation and providing food at the medical mission. We’re incorporating education and skills training at the mission site to further support the economic needs and futures of these families. Through our outreach, Operation Smile in Madagascar is creating a strong community between patients, volunteers and staff members so that families affected by cleft can understand that they are not alone and that we’ll be there to support them and others in need of safe surgical care for as long as it takes.”