Operation Smile Philippines’ Executive Director Emiliano Romano was recently inducted as a council member for the East Avenue Medical Center (EAMC) Multi-Sector Consultative Council.
With the thrust of strategic governance and collaborative efforts across various community sectors, EAMC takes proactive steps towards its Transformation Roadmap.
With the goal of elevating the center to greater heights of proficiency in healthcare delivery, the council will play a key role in a collaborative effort in EAMC’s governance mechanism for the proper and efficient implementation of their future plans.
Together with Emiliano, the council members are as follows:
SEC TEODORO “TED” HERBOSA – Secretary of Health
SEC RENATO U. SOLIDUM, JR.. PhD – Secretary, DOST
DR. PAULYN JEAN BUENAFLOR, ROSELL-UBIAL – Adjunct Professor of the UP College of Public Health
MARIA LINDA BUHAT, RN, MAN, Ed. D – President Emeritus, Association of Nursing Service Administrators of the Philippines
DR. RAYMUNDO P. ARCEGA, CESE – Chairman, National Network of Quality Assurance Agencies NNQAA
ATTY. RENE S. GRAPILON, MD – QC Assistant City Administrator for General Affairs
Efforts are underway to achieve Zero Cleft Manila with the cooperation of individuals from various sectors, including both government branches and private healthcare companies. By taking concrete actions, we can make a meaningful difference in the lives of patients with cleft conditions, enhancing their quality of life for many years to come.
On May 23, 2023, the Philippine healthcare system underwent a significant transformation. This was made possible through the collaborative efforts of loyal partnerships, innovation, and teamwork. Operation Smile Philippines received 25 Cleft Care Boxes from Johnson & Johnson, a long-time supporter. Additionally, Listerine, a Johnson & Johnson brand, sponsored infographic tarpaulins to educate society about cleft conditions and raise awareness.
These Cleft Care Boxes contain essential items such as a Pediatric weighing scale, bath weighing scale, height scale, oximeter, and stethoscope. They were distributed to 4 different district health centers across Manila. These items are crucial in identifying patients needing cleft care and bring us one step closer to achieving our Zero-Cleft Manila initiative.
Working together with the Mayor of Manila, Hon. Honey Lacuna, Manila Health Department Dr. Poks Pangan, and Director of Sta. Ana Hospital Dr. Grace Padilla, we seek to enact change through an ambitious initiative of creating a cleft-free Manila. We are grateful for the support and commitment of our partners in this journey towards creating a better healthcare system for all.
Jasmin Selberg, the winner of Miss International 2022 from Germany, along with Nicole Borromeo, who was crowned as Binibining Pilipinas 2022, and the Philippine representative to Miss International 2023, made a special visit to Sta. Ana Hospital. Their charming smiles had a powerful impact on past and present patients. During their visit, the two lovely women took time out of their busy schedules to meet the children, listen to their stories, and share some of their own. The children were ecstatic with their presence but were also treated to a special lunch and dessert, bringing their beautiful smiles all around.
At the event, the children showcased their unique talents. Among them was a young girl who dreams of becoming a vocalist. Despite having undergone surgery for a cleft lip and palate, and receiving speech therapy, she stunned everyone with her beautiful singing voice. Her performance was truly inspiring.
The two pageant winners were given a tour of the Sta. Ana Hospital Center, which is the driving force behind the positive impact on the lives of these children.
Our goal of achieving a cleft-free Manila may seem ambitious, but with the support of others, it is within our reach. To help us achieve our Zero-Cleft Manila initiative, our partner Karo Pharma, a healthcare solutions company from Sweden dedicated to improving people’s health through innovation and high-quality solutions, made a significant contribution on May 23, 2023.
Karo Pharma generously donated 25 Cleft Care Boxes that contain essential items such as pediatric and bath weighing scales, height scales, oximeters, and stethoscopes.
These tools will impact patients in Manila, where the city’s health centers are their primary point of contact. We distributed the boxes to four different district health centers. At the distribution drive, we were honored to have Dr. Poks Pangan from the Manila Health Department and Dr. Grace Padilla, Director of Sta. Ana Hospital, present. Working together is crucial to achieving our goal, and we appreciate Karo Pharma’s support.
Philippines AirAsia’s partnership with Operation Smile Philippines (OSP) began this year by transporting two children with cleft lip and palate conditions from Tacloban City to Manila on March 19, 2023. Jehro, who is three years old, and Luke, who is nine months old, received cleft and surgical care at OSP’s Pampanga Cleft Care Center, located in The Medical City Clark.
Jehro was born with both cleft lip and palate conditions. He had his first surgery at seven months old in OSP’s Tacloban Surgical Program in January 2019, right before the pandemic started. He was supposed to have his second surgery in 2020, but the pandemic affected all activities of OSP, causing a delay. However, at the start of 2023, OSP sought patients to fly to Manila for cleft care, and Jehro was chosen as one of the two patients.
Jehro, a 3-year-old boy, is an energetic kid who loves playing and watching sports like football, golf, and billiards. He also enjoys the ocean and exploring the nature around him. He is talkative and likes to sing. Jehro’s parents are very hands-on with their children, and they make ends meet by freelancing and selling clothes online.
“Hindi po namin makakalimutan itong moment na ito. Taos-puso po kaming nagpapasalamat.” [We will never forget this moment until he grows old. We’re grateful sincerely, from the bottom of our hearts.] Jehro’s mom said in an interview with the parents of the children.
Luke was born with a unilateral cleft lip. When he was nine months old, he received his first lip surgery. Luke’s father is a farmer and construction worker who is on call. When Luke was born, his parents were unaware that his condition could be addressed. Additionally, he was the only one in his family with a cleft lip. Upon seeing his cleft lip condition, neighbors often looked at Luke with dismay, but this did not trouble his parents. They immediately committed to the schedule after learning that Luke could receive surgery last March.
“Maraming salamat po sa AirAsia sa tulong po ninyo lalo na po sa anak namin. Di po namin ito makakalimutan. Kayo po ang maaalala namin tuwing ngumingiti po ang anak namin.” [Thank you, AirAsia, for all help specially to our child. We will never forget this. You’ll be the one we’ll remember every time our child smiles.] Luke’s mom said.
In January 31, 2023, OSP and Philippines AirAsia renewed their alliance and strengthened their relationship with new innovative projects in the pipeline. AirAsia has been instrumental in the success of providing care to OSP’s patients, serving as their transportation provider, and sharing their cause with the many transient travelers who pass through their airlines. They announce their cause and collect onboard donations, making them a vital partner in providing care to their patients.
Inflight cash donations totaled more than half a million pesos for the past year, allowing OSP to provide even more comprehensive cleft care to their patients who need it the most. This year marks a new year and new opportunities to improve how to transform smiles more effectively.
AirAsia Philippines Chief Executive Officer Ricky Isla shares: “This reinforced partnership with Operation Smile Philippines signifies our resolve to make it happen for the Filipino children and their families. Our vision in AirAsia of inclusive growth is evident—-beyond connecting people, we want to be there for the people we serve, especially the marginalized. Each time you fly with AirAsia, you don’t just reach your destination safely, but you can change people’s lives for the better.”
Operation Smile Philippines Executive Director Emiliano Romano said, “I am ecstatic about renewing our partnership between Operation Smile Philippines and AirAsia. Our vision and cause of transforming lives cannot be done alone; instead, it takes a community of like-minded individuals to affect change. AirAsia has been an essential partner, a vessel, and a catalyst of change.
We look forward to more projects in the many years to come.”
AirAsia will be vital in transporting medical volunteers and patients in the coming years as Operation Smile Philippines grows.
The Italian Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines (ICCPI) recently concluded its Leadership Awards for the year 2022. And our very own Executive Director Emiliano Romano bagged the coveted Outstanding Leadership Award!
This award celebrates exceptional Italian and Filipino business leaders, entrepreneurs, and organizations who continue to promote outstanding practices and global excellence in their respective fields This also aims to recognize executives who have proven significant leadership skills by being role models for their passion, integrity, authenticity, vision, strategy, perseverance, commitment and business capacity in his industry.
Fielded are thirty (30) nominees for 10 different awards categories including, (1) Woman in Business of the Year, (2) Exceptional Entrepreneur Award, (3) “ItalPinoy” of the Year, (4) Restaurateur of the Year, (5) Emerging Entrepreneur, (6) Sustainability Business/ Entrepreneur, (7) Innovation Champion, (8) Young Business Leader, (9) Outstanding Leadership, and (10) Italian Executive of the Year.
The event also had the privilege of having an esteemed group for its panel of judges. Among them ICCPI’s President Sergio Boero, Dusit Thani’s Managing Director Stanley Lo, BDO Capital’s President Eduardo Francisco, Proactive Resources CEO Hermod Allertsen, and Italian Consul Antonio Gallo.
The event also strengthened relationships within the Italian-Filipino business network creating a sense of family, very dear to both cultures due to its shared practices and common cultural heritage.
Deliberations on how to transform children’s lives are always met with heartwarming eagerness, but rarely are they executed with precision and haste.
The goal? A Cleft-Free Manila City with the support of Operation Smile Canada.
Operation Smile Philippines, the City Mayor of Manila, and Sta. Ana Hospital agreed a year ago on a project that will double down on transforming the lives of cleft patients by creating a Manila Cleft Care Center “MCCC.”
By renovating the 8th-floor surgical wing, we will ultimately double the capacity at which we can screen and conduct surgeries.
Today marks a milestone for Operation Smile Philippines as we had a ribbon-cutting day for the newly renovated Sta. Ana Hospital Ambulatory Surgical Clinic x Operation Smile brings us within striking range of the goal.
program aims to highlight women’s critical role in health care in the Philippines and globally
Operation Smile is launching its Women in Medicine program in the Asia region with an all-female international surgical and educational mission in Cebu City, from October 10 to 15, 2022, aimed at putting the spotlight on the critical role women play in the global health care system, and to encourage them to take on leadership roles in their professions.
“Women in Medicine” is central to our 10-year goal of increasing access to quality care for one million patients around the world, and to help build global health infrastructure,” said Operation Smile co-founder and president, Kathleen Magee, who is flying to the Philippines to lead the launch
The program seeks to educate women in resource-poor countries on advanced medical practices, empower them become leaders in global medicine, expand opportunities for female health care workers in underserved communities, and elevate the quality of cleft care, Magee said.
“There are 5 million patients in need of cleft care in the countries we work in, and 5 billion people who lacks access to safe surgery across the world; we can’t address this need without more women in the health care arena,” Magee said.
The Cebu launch will kick off with a one-day forum on women empowerment in the medical field for all the participants, followed by four days of free surgeries and care for 80 children with cleft lip and cleft palate at the Cebu City Medical Center.
In partnership with its in-country foundation, Operation Smile Philippines, longtime NGO ally in Cebu, the MSY Charitable Foundation, and the Cebu City Government, Operation Smile assembled a team of 60 volunteer cleft care professionals from 12 countries.
The multinational team comprises of plastic surgeons, anesthesiologists, pediatricians, dentists, speech therapists, child life specialists and biomedical technicians from the U.S., Vietnam, Australia, Guatemala, Colombia, Peru, Honduras, Sweden, UK, Egypt, South Africa, and the Philippines.
Filipino plastic surgeon, Dr. Lora Mae De Guzman, and anesthesiologist, Dr. Rosario Loraine Moscare will lead the medical team. Both are long-time Operation Smile volunteers.
“Our ultimate goal is to inspire and enable women to take on leadership roles in the medical field so they can help shape policies that would attract more women into the fold and equip them with global-standard skills to widen access to safe surgery and quality cleft care,” Magee said.
“By empowering women in medicine at the local and regional level, we are creating a transformative change that will ripple across the health care landscape,” she added.
Women comprise 70% of health professional across the world, said the World Health Organization (WHO).
The figure is even higher In the Philippines. Women account for 75% of the country’s nearly 500,000 health professionals, said the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) in a 2018 survey.
Still, despite the seeming large number, the Philippines lacks 290,000 health care workers to meet the WHO-recommended ratio of 44.5 health workers for every 10,000 of the population, the Human Resources for Health Network (HRHN) estimated in a 2019 study.
HRHN, the multi-sectoral agency the Department of Health created to align public health policies and implementation, said less than 1% of employed Filipinos are working as health professionals,
Operation Smile Philippines’ executive director, Emiliano Romano, said the novel Women in Medicine initiative is being piloted in the Philippines, where Operation Smile started in 1982, as well as in Morocco, Malawi, and Peru.
The plan is to roll out the program in all 35 Operation Smile program countries, Romano added.
Today, the first 2 beneficiaries of the donations from Pigeon Philippines received products for their babies who are born with cleft lip and palate conditions. These products shall support these children to receive the right amount of nutrition that they need as newborns.
Babies born with cleft lip and palate conditions face various challenges of malnutrition because of difficulty in latching caused by the malformation of their lip and palate.
Pigeon is a brand well-known for its high-quality maternal and baby products. They are dedicated to promoting inclusivity by offering solutions that are tailor-fitted for the needs of babies so as to achieve happiness for every child one at a time.