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Aid for cleft children in South Asia

Bangladesh
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Bangladesh facts
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40%
More than 40% of all Bangladeshis live in extreme poverty. The inhabitants of the slums in the major cities of Dhaka, Chittagong and Raishani are particularly hard hit.
14,000
There are an estimated 14,000 slums in Bangladesh. Of the 20 million inhabitants of the capital Dhaka, 30 to 40 percent live in the 4,700 slums of the metropolis.
14.3%
14.3% percent of children between the ages of 0 and 5 are malnourished. Malnutrition during pregnancy is a common problem.
6,000
Around six thousand children with cleft lip and palate are born in Bangladesh each year. Many of these children do not have access to qualified treatment.
1,233
Bangladesh is one of our priority countries. In 2020, our four surgeons were able to treat 1,233 patients with cleft lip and palate with the necessary surgery.
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Our work in Bangladesh

Our work to help cleft children in Bangladesh began over ten years ago. The project grew steadily from around 300 operations per year initially. In 2018, we were able to grow our ability to help in Bangladesh by expanding our surgical team. With a team expanded to four surgeons, we more than doubled the number of operations performed in Bangladesh from 761 in 2018 to 1,870 in 2019. Project locations are the two largest cities in Bangladesh, Dhaka and Chittagong, and the city of Rajshahi in the northwest.

To reach this rural population, our surgeons regularly organize surgeries outside of their fixed locations, in small provincial hospitals. But in Bangladesh, rural people are often very afraid to entrust their children to doctors and to go to the city for medical treatment. To help these children, it is important to win the parents’ trust and convince them of the need for treatment. Awareness work is therefore a crucial part of our work in Bangladesh.

Growing further

Currently, there are only few doctors in Bangladesh who are specialized to treat children with cleft lip and palate. At the beginning of 2020, we initiated a program to provide specialized training to two more Bangladeshi surgeons, to help more cleft children in Bangladesh get the operation they need. With the training of young surgeons, we ensure the long-term continuation of our local aid in the long term.

Over the next few years, we want to use our partner network to develop a comprehensive treatment concept beyond the basic operations. We hope to soon be able to give the cleft patients in Bangladesh access to many important follow-up therapies to help them live even better lives.

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“The need for help in Bangladesh is immense. So many children are still waiting for their surgery. Our local team – the surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses and nurses – are doing great things. I am grateful to be part of this desperately needed effort. ”

Dr. med. Ulrike Lamlé, pro bono project manager Bangladesh

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Our partners in Bangladesh

DCKH has been active in Bangladesh since 2009. The leading surgeon from the very beginning of the project is Dr. Mohammad Quamruzzaman. Dr. Zaman (as he is widely known) is one of the most experienced and qualified surgeons in Bangladesh. Since September 2018 we have also been cooperating with the renowned Australian aid organization Operation Cleft Australia (OCA). The third project partner is the local organization Syed Nuruddin Ahmed Development Foundation (SNADF), responsible for local administration. The cooperation with OCA added three new surgeons – Prof. Dr. Siddiky, Prof. Dr. Chakraborty and Prof. Dr. Ahmed – to our team. Dr. Ulrike Lamlé supports our aid project in Bangladesh as a pro bono project manager.

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Dr. Mohammad Quamruzzaman
Dr. Mohammad Quamruzzaman (3rd from left) heads one of our projects in Dhaka, capital and largest city in Bangladesh. We have been working together with Zaman (as we call him for short) since 2009. He is supported by Dr. Ziaul Hoque Al Masum (2nd from right). Dr. Zaman operates in Dhaka at Al-Markazul Islami Hospital. Among the patients are Rohingya who have fled Myanmar and have been living in the nearby Kutupalong refugee camp since August 2017. In order to also care for the many cleft patients outside Dhaka, the two surgeons regularly conduct operation camps in 13 provincial hospitals.
Prof. Dr. Siddiky
Prof. Dr. Siddiky leads our second project in Dhaka. Together with his team, he operates at the Cosmetic Surgery Center Ltd. in Dhaka as well as at four other locations outside Dhaka. One of them is the Lifebuoy Friendship Hospital, a hospital ship that supplies patients in otherwise difficult to reach areas of Bangladesh.
Prof. Dr. Syed Shamsuddin Ahmed
Professor Dr. Syed Shamsuddin Ahmed leads our project in Chittagong at the LMRF Children Hospital. The Chittagong region is the largest region of Bangladesh: According to our patient documentation, it is assumed that 30 to 40 percent of our Bangladeshi patients come from the Chittagong region, and like our other surgeons Prof. Ahmed also regularly conducts surgery camps outside the city of Chittagong.
Professor Dr. Abhi Chakraborty
Professor Dr. Abhi Chakraborty is the lead surgeon of our project in Rajshahi, northwest Bangladesh, adjacent to India. The experienced pediatric surgeon treats around 70 cleft patients per year at the Rajshahi Cancer Hospital and at three other locations.
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Our work in Bangladesh
Surgery
Surgery is currently the focus of our work to help cleft children in Bangladesh. All DCKH surgeons are extremely qualified and have many years of experience in cleft surgery. They are masters in the treatment of cleft lip and palate. After the first operation, the team stays in touch with the parents so that the children are brought to the necessary follow-up operations.
Awareness work
Awareness work plays a major role in Bangladesh. Project employees go door to door, visit schools and mosques to draw attention to DCKH’s offer of help. Surgery missions to remote regions are advertised in local newspapers and on Facebook.
Interdisciplinary aid
In some cases, surgeons are already using the interdisciplinary structures of the DCKH partner hospitals or other networks to give patients further treatments such as speech therapy and orthodontics. It is our goal to offer these therapies to more cleft patients in Bangladesh.
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Country portrait Bangladesh

Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna are the three major rivers in the country. They are the basis of life for the Bangladeshis and at the same time represent a great danger. In the rainy season between June and September, the monsoons regularly lead to violent floods. The population suffers the consequences of the massive destruction.

Bangladesh is known for its textile industry, which, along with agriculture, is one of the country’s most important economic sectors and gives many people work. Working conditions are often life threatening. The minimum wage of around 50 euros per month is hardly enough to survive.

Bangladesh (literally: Land of the Bengals) is a country in South Asia, bordering Myanmar and India. 163 million people, twice as many as in Germany, live in an area half the size of Germany. 90 percent of the population are Muslims.
Area
147,630 km²
Population
161,356,039
Official language
Bengali
Religion
Islam
Currency
Taka
Capital
Dhaka

Most children attend elementary school, but very few of them stay until graduation. The number of illiterate people is correspondingly high: only about 60 percent of the population can read and write.