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Making Smiles Possible
In March 2010, Anna Coren presented a 3-minute video about Aussi Bangla Smile for CNN Impact Your World. Click the following link to view the video at the CNN website: Making Smiles Possible
Our first visit to Bangladesh was completed in October 2007. Further visits occured in 2009, 2010, and 2011. Our latest visit was in March 2013.
Aim of visits:
- To perform surgical procedures free of charge for patients – a majority of females and mostly children – for example, cleft lip and palate, burns, hand deformities and injuries – totalling approximately 80-100 patients per visit.
- To enhance the training of local surgeons and aneasthetists
- To enhance the training of local nursing services
- To share our nursing experiences with the local nursing teams
We plan to operate in local treatment centres and conduct hands-on teaching sessions.
- The Aussi Bangla Smile surgical team consists of 8-10 people.
- Accommodation is based in Dhaka in a self-contained flat.
- Equipment that is required will be taken to Bangladesh or purchased there or from India.
- All unused and surplus equipment (except instruments to be used for further trips) will be donated to the local theatre staff at the conclusion of the visit.
- Any funds left over will also be used to finance further proposed missions.
The five visits conducted to 2013 have succeeded in treating a total of 553 patients!
Most of Bangladesh’s population of 142 million still live below the poverty line.
60% of the people are very poor earning a meager daily income of $5. General living standards are well below acceptable levels. People tend to flock to the cities where the employment is focused. Water is often contaminated and there is regular yearly flooding in monsoon season causing thousands of deaths and widespread disease.
Many people live on the streets in mere shanties. Infrastructure is abysmal and there are many blackouts each day. Healthcare standards are rising all the time but still leave a lot to be desired.
The ratio of plastic surgeons to population are;
Bangladesh – 1:8,000.000
Australia – 1:70,000
Around 200,000 cleft lip/palate patients are left without any form of treatment whatsoever. Poverty makes it impossible for most of these cleft patients to get any surgical help. These patients are almost always neglected and more so if the patient happens to be a girl. It is common for the whole family to be ostracized because of the deformity of their child. Children are unable to attend school and adults unable to work . Women are often considered unfit to marry.
However, simple surgical procedures can transform their lives. These operations average 2 hours and usually require only an overnight hospital stay. After the procedure, a patient can not only play an active part in his or her own life but also make contributions like any other member of the family.
One operation costs just over $200. This is inclusive of all medication, purchase of instruments and supplies, hospital charges including food and accommodation for patient and carer, anaesthetic drugs and family transport to and from the centres. The project also pays the wages of any Bangladeshi staff who assist. The Australian team obviously works free.
The pioneer of the Aussi Bangla Smile Project, Dr Hasan Sarwar, is currently working in Australia at a major public hospital in the outer west of Sydney.
The voluntary surgical team consists of operating theatre staff (doctors and nurses) all fully trained and accredited. The members of the team take their annual leave, pay their own flight costs, and raise money to fully fund the project. The team also carry all supplies as personal luggage on the flight.