Cleft lip and palate, a congenital disorder characterized by midline facial clefts, can create significant functional and aesthetic problems for patients. Patients often times have difficulty with speech, swallowing and nasal breathing. In addition to the physiologic issues, patients with cleft lip and palate often suffer social stigmatization and are frequently ostracized from their communities. A one to two hour surgery can lead to a drastic change in the patient’s life trajectory with improvements in eating, speaking and integration into society.
India has a high incidence of cleft lip and palate. And while India is a world superpower with a vast economy, there are many patients (particularly outside the urban areas and in lower castes) who are unable to receive adequate care for their clefts. In November 2019, I plan to travel with a group of surgeons, dentists, anesthesiologists and nurses to Bangalore, India for a humanitarian medical mission. We are partnering with a well-established local non-profit organization, the Sree Vasavi Trust. Founded in 1951, this organization strives to meet the medical needs of the indigenous population of Bangalore, India and the surrounding region. Education is an integral part of our global humanitarian outreach. We will be working side by side at Vasavi Hospital with medical students, residents and physicians from the local area. The mission team is composed of specialists in facial plastic surgery, general surgery, otolaryngology - head and neck surgery and dentistry. Our collaborative efforts with the team at Vasavi Hospital will help identify how this mission and continued future missions can best serve their needs and their patients’ needs. The medical education and collaboration will include didactic teaching and operating room preceptorship. Our plan is to provide continuity of care through local partnership, medical education, and annual mission trips.
We will be working to establish a partnership for continued collaboration with a local non-profit organization, the Sree Vasavi Trust. We hope that both the indigent population of this region and the medical community serving this population will benefit from our visit. During our mission we hope to treat approximately 30 patients with cleft lip and palate deformities and another 30 patients with other medical issues of the head and neck. These patients come from rural and medically underserved backgrounds - often times from the lower castes. Patients will be recruited through local print/radio/social media advertising with the support of local non-profit organizations. The majority of these patients will come from rural and medically underserved areas.
Cleft lip and palate is a unique medical condition in that there are not only significant medical and physical considerations, but there are in some ways even greater social and emotional consequences. Untreated patients and their families are often marginalized from society without access to education and other societal interactions and support. We are partnering with the Sree Vasavi Trust because we share their belief that access to basic healthcare is a human right.
Our mission will be based out of Bangalore, India but we anticipate patients and medical personnel will be attending from throughout the region. Our hope is that the mission can have an immediate and lasting impact throughout the region. The ultimate goal of our mission is to develop and promote the existing healthcare system of Bangalore, India. Our plan is to provide continuity of care through local partnership, medical education, and annual mission trips.
Hopefully, one day our efforts will eventually eliminate the necessity of our mission to Bangalore, India.
In November 2019, our team from Medical Missions for Children (MMFC) traveled to Bangalore, India to care for medically underserved patients with cleft lip/palate, facial deformities and other head/neck conditions. We had the privilege of partnering with the outstanding medical team at Vasavi Hospital, who recruited patients from all over India. During our week-long mission, we screened approximately 100 patients and performed 34 surgeries. Many, if not all, of these patients would not have been able to otherwise receive care for their conditions. We also established a strong relationship with a local foundation and medical team that will undoubtedly continue to bring future missions to India.
The impact of our mission extends well beyond our week spent in India. Vasavi Hospital and MMFC are actively planning ongoing missions to Bangalore in 2020 and beyond. Several patients that were screened and/or treated are planning to return for the next medical mission for additional treatment. We are planning to continue to operate with and teach local physicians during future missions.
We are eternally grateful to the generosity of the Dox Foundation for supporting our ongoing humanitarian medical missions.