Interplast: Finalist's Statement
Interplast, the first international humanitarian organization to provide free reconstructive surgery in developing countries, makes a direct and profound difference in the lives of 3,000 children each year who suffer physically or emotionally from a congenital deformity or injury. Renowned for the highest-quality medical care, Interplast works in partnership with volunteers and overseas medical colleagues to educate and empower local communities so that medical access continues year-round. With the generous support of volunteers and donors, Interplast has performed more than 57,000 surgeries since our inception in 1969.
An Overwhelming Need
Millions of people in developing nations suffer needlessly because they have little or no access to the medical care that can make a profound difference in their lives. Disabling injuries and congenital deformities are prevalent around the world. Cleft lip and palate, for example, are among the most common congenital deformities worldwide, affecting an estimated one in 600 newborns. Additionally, everyday tasks in developing countries can cause terrible burns and other debilitating injuries.
Children with cleft lips or palates are often ostracized from their communities and denied an education because of their appearance and speech impediments. Many accident victims endure a lifetime of suffering simply because they have no access to the reconstructive surgical care that would help them regain functional mobility. Few plastic surgeons are available in developing countries to perform the needed surgeries, or impoverished families simply cannot afford the medical help their children require.
Interplast Provides Solutions
Interplast envisions a world in which no human being suffers physically or emotionally from a repairable congenital deformity or injury. To reach that vision, Interplast partners with volunteers and overseas medical colleagues to educate and empower local communities so that medical access is available year-round. The organization's scope of services includes:
- Partnering with surgeons and other medical professionals in developing countries to coordinate locally-managed surgical outreach programs to provide free life-changing surgeries and related care such as speech and physical therapy.
- Conducting educational workshops to provide advanced training in specialized skills for host country medical professionals.
- Our innovative Web-based technology, Interplast Grand Rounds, allows cases to be discussed for quality and safety assurances with experienced volunteer surgeons in the United States, Canada, and around the world. It also allows doctors at all of our partner sites to share relevant information, experiences and advice.
- Sending volunteer medical teams overseas to perform surgery and assist in skills transfer.
Around the World Interplast manages medical programs in more than 25 different sites around the world. Performing surgery and/or providing advanced medical training for local physicians and nurses, volunteers this year will work in Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Ecuador, Honduras, Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, Nicaragua, Peru, Sri Lanka, Zambia and Vietnam.
In its first three years, Interplast's Surgical Outreach Center in Nepal treated more than 3,000 patients, more than 10 times the number that could have been treated through volunteer direct service trips to that location. It demonstrated that Interplast could dramatically expand access by directing more resources and support to locally managed programs. Dr. Shankar Man Rai, director of the Interplast Surgical Outreach Center in Nepal, received the prestigious American Medical Association's Nathan R. Davis Award in International Medicine and Public Health in June for his dedication to helping poor children in Nepal and other developing countries.
Interplast also has Surgical Outreach Centers in Bangladesh, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Peru, and Zambia. Interplast provides support to the centers with funding, quality review, technological support and advanced medical training.
Interplast Needs Your Help
Interplast's programs depend entirely on volunteerism and philanthropy. Donations from individuals, foundations and corporations support surgical trips, locally managed surgical outreach programs and a variety of medical education programs. Interplast devotes 92% of our total operating budget to program costs, not overhead.
The organization's work is humanitarian in nature; no political or religious affiliations are maintained, and no financial support is accepted from government agencies. Sensitivity to and respect for other cultures as equals pervades the Interplast philosophy and deeply influences the manner in which we conduct ourselves as ambassadors. Interplast is a proud member of InterAction, the largest alliance of U.S.-based international development and humanitarian nongovernmental organizations.
The above information was provided by the profiled organization.