March 2022 – According to recent studies, a cleft lip or palate patient is born in one out of 1,000 Filipino live births. A cleft lip is a physical separation of two sides of the upper lip while a cleft palate is a split or opening in the roof of the mouth. Without surgery, individuals born with a cleft lip or palate will struggle to eat, breathe, speak, and socialize.
Operation Smile, a non-profit medical services organization, is dedicated to helping underprivileged children and young adults with cleft disabilities live better by providing reconstructive surgery and comprehensive care, free of charge. While one cleft surgery can bring immediate transformation to a child’s life, Operation Smile is also committed to providing patients with health that lasts, offering additional surgeries, dentistry, psychological services, speech therapy, and other essential cleft treatments.
Building on 40 years of learning and success, Operation Smile is entering a new era as a global network driving access to high-quality health care. Providing safe, high-quality cleft surgery and care for children requires strengthening local health systems, and this can be further solidified through reliable partnerships
Since 1997, Johnson & Johnson (Philippines), Inc. (JJPI) has supported Operation Smile in the Philippines not only through regular funding, but also in the development and training of volunteers who actively contribute to the cause. These include experts in the fields of plastic surgery, anesthesiology, dentistry, pediatrics, nursing, and speech pathology, among others.
“We at Operation Smile Philippines are fortunate to have Johnson & Johnson Philippines as one of our longtime partners,” said the executive director of Operation Smile Philippines, Emiliano Romano. “With their support, we were able to carry through with regular surgeries which we perform on about two to three patients each week in our centers, along with our Nutrition and Tele-Therapy programs. Before COVID-19, we would have around six local missions and two international missions which, when the pandemic struck, were no longer allowed.”
This year, JJPI reaffirms its commitment to Operation Smile in two ways.
First, through regular provision of kits containing different Johnson & Johnson products that help promote good personal hygiene. Operation Smile also received a P1 million cash donation from JJPI for their program ‘Smile Together’ which aims to increase awareness on oral care and speech difficulty, by enhancing children’s learning and expanding reach across communities.
Second, through mouthwash brand Listerine®, JJPI is giving Filipinos a way to support Operation Smile while advocating the importance of good oral health. Listerine is partnering with one of the top drugstore retailers – Watsons. Through merchandising initiatives in select Watsons stores, more people can learn about Operation Smile’s efforts and contribute to the goal of improving the state of oral health of every child and family.
“It’s unfortunate that oral health knowledge is low across the Philippines. Many people think brushing alone is enough. However, it cleans only 25% of the mouth, leaving germs that cause various oral problems. Rinsing with a mouthwash like Listerine® is recommended to protect from germs & keep your mouth healthy,” shared senior brand manager for Listerine® Philippines, Miguel Gamboa.
JJPI’s efforts are in line with the “culture of care” that the company continues to cultivate across its local team and in the communities the company serves, through its various healthcare solutions, strong partnerships with both government and nongovernment organizations, and other outreach initiatives.
“We are proud to support Operation Smile’s operations each year and invest in the resources needed to help more cleft patients live normal lives. Across our global network, we continue to find ways to enable better community access to healthcare solutions and drive greater knowledge around disease areas and help restore the joy of good health. We are doing our best to care for the world, one Filipino at a time,” ended communication & public affairs lead of Johnson & Johnson (Philippines), Inc., Ana Ysabel Ongpin. ###