With the purpose of putting a smile on customers’ faces, Watsons Philippines began its partnership with Operation Smile nine years ago. Since then, the partnership has changed the lives of 2,073 people who were born with cleft-lip and palate conditions through free surgeries.
Operation Smile, one of the largest medical volunteer-based nonprofit organizations in the world, has mobilized thousands of medical volunteers from a wide range of medical specialties from more than 80 countries.
One of the initiatives it has launched is Women in Medicine, which hopes to inspire and enable women to take on leadership roles in the medical field.
According to the World Health Organization, 70% of health professional across the world is comprised of women. However, the Philippines still 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 Women in Medicine program seeks to educate women in resource-poor countries on advanced medical practices, help provide them with the tools for them to become leaders in global medicine, expand opportunities for female health care workers in underserved communities, and elevate the overall quality of cleft care globally.
Operation Smile is launching Women in Medicine in the Philippines, making the country only the fourth in the world to work with the organization on the all-women initiative.
An all-female international surgical and educational mission was held in a local hospital in Cebu from October 10-15. The surgical and educational mission, which will help change the lives of 40 beneficiaries from Cebu, will put the spotlight on the critical role women play in the global healthcare system, and encourage them to take on leadership roles in their professions.
The multinational surgical and educational team is made up of 60 plastic surgeons, anesthesiologists, pediatricians, dentists, speech therapists, child life specialists, and biomedical technicians from the United States, Vietnam, Australia, Guatemala, Colombia, Peru, Honduras, Sweden, UK, Egypt, South Africa, and the Philippines.
Operation Smile co-founder and president Kathleen Magee said there are five million patients in need of cleft care in the countries the organization works in, and five billion people who lack access to safe surgery across the world.
“We can’t address this need without more women in the healthcare arena,” said Magee.
“The spirit of bringing a smile to people’s faces continues to live on in Watsons. We are happy to partner with Operation Smile in this groundbreaking program as we continue to not only help change the lives of those who are born with cleft-lip and palate conditions, but also expand career opportunities for female health care workers,” said Viki Encarnacion, PR and Sustainability Director of Watsons.
Joining the all-women Operation Smile team are 40 female Watsons employee-volunteers.
This partnership in the Philippines is part of A.S. Watson’s global commitment to bring 10,000 perfect smiles in collaboration with Operation Smile.
“Our promise to Look Good Do Good Feel Great has always included doing good by uplifting the health and wellbeing of the communities where we are present,” said Encarnacion.