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Our aid for children with cleft lip and palate started in 2003. Already back in 2005 the German Cleft Children’s Aid Society, which was founded in 2002, financed 1,271 cleft operations and 83 operations on craniofacial anomalies (severe congenital deformations) in India and 62 surgeries in Cameroon.
The German Cleft Children’s Aid Society has been active in five countries since 2006: in India with the establishment of a new cleft centre in Ahmedabad, in Cameroon through the financing of the project Ngaoundéré together with our partner, the University Clinic of Greifswald, in Vietnam through the support of the activities undertaken by Deviemed (a German NGO) in the Central Vietnamese cities of Huë and Da Nang as well as in Peru through the financing of surgical campaigns led by local physicians and the support of surgery and therapy in the Hospital Nacional Cayetano Heredia in Lima. In Uganda through the support of operation and training missions of Dr. Dr. Blume.
In 2007 the German Cleft Children’s Aid Society continuously expanded its help in the four project countries.
India: founding of the Cleft Centre Mangalore together with Prof. Krishna Shama Rao. Here the focus lies on the treatment of children with craniofacial anomalies. In addition, the Cleft Centre Bhubaneswar was founded in the poorest of India’s federal states, in Orissa, where the children of India’s indigenous Adivasi people - who mainly live in the mountainous areas - now can be treated. In late autumn the Cleft Centre Srinagar was founded in Kashmir.
Peru: expansion of the number of activities in the more remote parts of Peru as well as increasing the numbers of operations in Lima. Founding of a base in Cuzco, in the High Andes. Financing of a new anaesthesia machine in Lima to improve the safety of surgery performed there.
Cameroon: founding of the project “Projet bec-de-Lièvre Lore Keller, Traitement gratuit des fentes labiopalatines” for the central and southern parts of Cameroon as a supplement to our project in the northern Ngaoundéré. The surgery is performed in a very active and well equipped hospital in Douala.
In 2008 we began our help in the Philippines through a project in Cagayan de Oro (Mindanao). Two local surgeons, who both are very well trained, have a great expertise in the area of cleft lips and palates. In Uganda we are financing the training of two surgeons within the framework of a project at the medical faculty of the University of Mbarara which was initiated by the oral and maxillofacial surgeon Dr. Dr. Oliver Blume from Munich. At the end of the year we started individual help in China on the initiative of a television programme editor who had made a documentary about an orphanage in Tayuan. We are now supporting the surgery of orphans with cleft lips and palates there. During the summer of 2008 our Peruvian project director and president of the supporting organisation Qorito, Dr. Alberto Bardales, also performed surgery on children in La Paz, Bolivia. Helping there is his greatest wish, as he originally stems from Puno (Lake Titicaca), and has first-hand knowledge of the difficult situation of the local population in the Bolivian Andes. It is intended that we extend our help from Peru to Bolivia.
Going by the numbers of treatments, 2009 has been a very successful year in the history of our society! Some 3,225 operations were made possible: India 2,138 operations, Peru 452 operations, Cameroon 186 operations, Vietnam 160 operations, the Philippines 159 operations, Tajikistan 78 operations, Uganda 37 operations, China 15 operations. All projects are aimed at sustainability, meaning that local surgeons should be the directors of the projects and that they are trained accordingly. All projects are working on establishing a comprehensive treatment including ENT specialists, orthodontics and speech therapy, something which so far has only been (partly) possible in India.
In 2010 we successfully continued our work. India, Peru, Cameroon and Vietnam are the key countries with the following local supporters (some of which we helped initiate): The Gujarat Cleft and Craniofacial Research Institute (The GCCRI) and the Maaya Foundation in India, Qorito in Peru, a Protestant supporting hospital as well as the surgeon Dr. Etienne Nguidjoi in Cameroon and the non-profit organisation OSCA in Vietnam. Other larger projects are currently running in Bangladesh and Tajikistan, smaller, more local projects in the Philippines, in Afghanistan (training project), in Bolivia (Santa Cruz) and in China (Xi’An). In Uganda the training of two surgeons for cleft lip and palate surgery has been completed, in spring of 2011 a larger independent surgery was opened in Mbarara. The preparations for the surgical and training campaigns in Rwanda also fall into 2010.
In 2011 we open another Cleft-Center in India (Bangalore). Also this year we start a training program for doctors from our other project countries in India. Three surgeons, three anesthesiologists and an ENT doctor from Afghanistan and the young surgeon Dr. Laurent Siborurema from Rwanda complete the training program. In Vietnam we train Dat Vu Quang in functional (speech) therapy and start helping children learning to speak properly. In Peru, Bolivia, Bangladesh and the Philippines our local surgeons operate continuously on children with cleft lip and cleft palate. In Rwanda and Afghanistan we continued the training of surgeons. The training of the Afghan surgeons for safety reasons takes place in neighboring Tajikistan and India.
In our anniversary year 2012, we have been able to operate as many children as never before with the help of our supporters and sponsors: 3,654 operations we have made possible. In addition, we could make good progress in the area of further treatments. Nely Nieves and Fausto Moises from Peru and Rashmi Krishna Rao and Sri Lakshmi Godavarthi from India were trained as functional therapists. The four completed three training sessions with Dr. hc Susanne Codoni at the center for cleft lip and palate at the University of Basel and did practical trainings with various therapists in Germany and Switzerland. The Vietnamese surgeons, Dr. Hung from the Hanoi Medical School and Dr. Hoai from Hanoi did a training for complex cleft surgery in India. Children in Vietnam can receive complex surgery such as the bone grafting (bone graft from the hip in the jaw). In Afghanistan, the trained surgeons Dr. Sebghatullah Natory (Kunduz) and Dr. Atif Habibullah (Faizabad) have conducted operations in 2012 for the first time independently.