Medical team gives hope to craniofacial patients in Vietnam

A Taiwan medical team recently performed pro bono surgeries on 35 small children, teenagers and youths with orofacial clefts in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, as part of the country's ongoing mission to provide humanitarian health assistance around the globe, according to Taipei City-based Noordhoff Craniofacial Foundation March 30.

Jointly organized by the NCF and Taiwan International Health Action, the team comprised two foundation executives, five specialists from Taiwan's Chang Gung Memorial Hospital and three surgeons from Indonesia and the German Cleft Children's Aid Society. It also received support from Taipei-headquartered Chen-Yung Foundation and the Sponsoring Association for Poor Patients in the Vietnamese city.

During its visit March 22-25, the group worked with surgeons at the Odonto-Maxillo-Facial Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, completing the operations over a two-day period.

According to the NCF, one in every 500 to 600 newborns in Asia suffers from craniofacial abnormalities. Besides genetics, these conditions can be caused by external factors such as exposure to radiation and malnutrition during pregnancy, and often have severe negative impacts on the lives of patients.

Repairing craniofacial defects is not simply about changing the patients' appearances, NCF Deputy Director Linus Lee said. It gives them new hope by boosting their confidence.

In addition to performing the surgeries, the team members also discussed surgical techniques with local doctors so as to enhance medical care at the Vietnamese hospital.

Lee said the NCF will assist the Vietnam medical institution in setting up its own craniofacial center this year by offering training for surgeons and other medical staffers. The foundation will also provide financial assistance to enable 200 patients to receive presurgical nasoalveolar molding therapy, a method of reshaping gums, lips and nostrils with a plastic plate, as well as operations, he added.

Launched jointly by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Health and Welfare in February 2006, TaiwanIHA coordinates the nation's international medical cooperation and missions, helping provide humanitarian aid in developing nations, facilitating the participation of local institutions in global health programs, and offering emergency assistance in disaster areas.

Founded in 1990 by Dr. Samuel Noordhoff, the NCF has organized 75 medical missions and performed surgeries on 1,780 individuals with craniofacial anomalies in mainland China, Mongolia, the Dominican Republic and six Southeast Asian nations, as well as trained 153 craniofacial specialists in 18 countries. The NGO was awarded the Friend of Foreign Service Medal in 2015 by the MOFA for its contributions to promoting Taiwan's health aid efforts. (SFC-E)

Source: Taiwan Today