Operation Smile Philippines & JCI Manila Partner To Raise Funds, Awareness For Oral Cleft Treatment in Manila

Operation Smile Philippines and JCI Manila
Seated from left is 2021 JCI Manila President Richard Tamayo, Operations Smile Philippines Executive Director Emiliano Romano and 2021 Director for Community Jason Oliva.

Operation Smile Philippines Foundation (OSP) is partnering with JCI Manila (JCIM) to undertake a Manila-wide campaign to raise funds for the treatment of indigent Manileno children with cleft lip and cleft palate, and awareness on the causes and ways to prevent cleft births.

Oral cleft severely affects the physical, mental, and psychological development and well-being of the afflicted children.  The disfigurement makes them prone to malnutrition and stunting, impairs their speech and hearing, and opens them to bullying and isolation, which could eventually destroy their self-esteem.   

The Institute of Human Genetics of UP Manila has said in a previous study that two in every 1,000 Filipinos are born every year with this highly debilitating congenital deformity. Manila was found by another study to have the highest incidence of cleft births among the country’s cities and municipalities. 

The two pioneering organizations signed a memorandum of agreement recently with JCI Manila committing to implement an extensive oral cleft education drive online and through traditional mass media channels and raising funds from its members and business and civil society network, and OSP handling the treatment.

OSP operates a cleft center at the Manila City-owned Sta. Ana Hospital that provides comprehensive care to the afflicted covering free medical examination, dental treatment, reconstructive surgery, and speech-language therapy.

It is also running a pilot nutrition feeding and education program in the city for children with oral cleft and their parents in partnership with Caritas Manila and Security Bank Corp.   

OSP is part of the global Operation Smile, Inc. which pioneered organized cleft care in the Philippines in 1982. JCIM, founded in 1947, is the first Jaycees club in the country and one of the most active civic organizations today supporting various humanitarian causes.