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Interplast: Finalist's Statement

Social Capitalists


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 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 60,000 surgeries since 1969.

An Overwhelming Need

Millions of people in developing countries 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 burn and accident victims endure a lifetime of suffering simply because they have no access to surgical care that would restore function and mobility. Few plastic surgeons are available in developing countries to perform the needed surgeries, or impoverished families simply cannot afford the medical care 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. The organization's scope of services includes:

  • Partnering with surgeons and other medical professionals in developing countries to coordinate locally-managed surgical outreach programs that provide free life-changing surgeries and related services such as burn care or speech therapy.
  • Conducting educational workshops providing advanced training in specialized skills for international medical professionals.
  • Operating innovative Web-based technology programs, such as Interplast Grand Rounds, which allows complex cases to be discussed online by experienced volunteer surgeons in the United States and around the developing world.
  • Sending volunteer medical teams overseas to perform surgery and assist in skills transfer.

Interplast manages medical programs in more than 25 different sites around the world. This year, volunteers will work in Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Ecuador, Myanmar, 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. Interplast also operates six other Surgical Outreach Centers, and launched year-round burn-care pilot programs at two sites in 2005. 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. Last year, Interplast devoted more than 90% of our total operating expenses to program costs, not overhead.

Interplast is a proud member of InterAction, the largest alliance of U.S.-based international development and humanitarian nongovernmental organizations. The organization's work is humanitarian in nature; no political or religious affiliations are maintained, and no financial support is received from government agencies. Sensitivity to and respect for other cultures as equals pervade the Interplast philosophy and deeply influences the manner in which we conduct ourselves as ambassadors.

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