Every three minutes, a child, somewhere in the world, is born with a cleft lip or cleft palate. However, one cleft lip surgery can take as little as 45 minutes – and can change a child’s life forever.
Glencore is committed to being part of this positive change, as part of its brand purpose to uplift communities. Glencore partnered with Operation Smile South Africa to make these changes a reality for 17 children from Mpumalanga, Limpopo, and Gauteng. Operation Smile South Africa is a non-profit, volunteer medical services organisation that provides free reconstructive surgery to children and adults born with cleft lips and/or cleft palates.
The initiative was a resounding success and took place at the Witbank Provisional Hospital. A group of medical specialists screened the children to ascertain their eligibility for the surgery and parents and caregivers were educated about the surgical process. Nurses provided the parents and caregivers with post-procedure information to ensure the best outcomes.
Life is not easy for children born with the condition, and they often find it difficult to eat, speak or socialise. Communities are also not adequately informed about the condition and people can be fearful and nervous when they are around children with cleft palates and cleft lips.
Their inability to eat easily can contribute to malnutrition, and the social stigma associated with their appearance can cause psychological and emotional distress that they carry into adulthood. Children with the condition are also at risk of developing middle-ear fluid and hearing loss. If the cleft extends through the upper gum, tooth development may be affected.
Noel Pillay, Glencore Coal Community and Regulatory Affairs General Manager said, “This partnership shows our commitment to uplifting the lives of the communities in which we operate. Operation Smile aligns with Glencore’s brand purpose that all children must have access to safe, effective and timeous surgical care, no matter their socio-economic backgrounds. Like Operation Smile, we believe all children deserve to be treated as our own.”