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.
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.
“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
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.
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.
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.