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AS Watson’s ‘Give a Smile’ program with Operation Smile: Transforming lives with cleft lip surgery

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Many people are unaware that out of every 1,000 Filipino live births, one baby is born with a cleft lip. A cleft is a gap in the lip or the palate, which is the roof of the mouth. However, due to socio-economic disparities, a medical report states that only a few, or 16 percent, of these patients can undergo surgery to repair cleft lip and palate.

In an effort to bridge this gap, the international health and beauty retailer AS Watson continues its commitment to helping cleft patients achieve complete and happy smiles through its “Give a Smile” program, in partnership with Operation Smile, Inc.

“Give a Smile” started in the Philippines in 2013, and since then, it has been brought to different parts of the world. Locally, this decade-long program has already conducted 3,300 operations. Most recently, from Oct. 17-21, 2023, members of AS Watson’s Next Gen Sustainability Committee from abroad, together with Watsons Philippines, jointly participated in a medical mission in Pampanga where 60 patients received life-changing surgeries.

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Malina Ngai, CEO of AS Watson (Asia & Europe)

“Through the collaboration with Operation Smile, AS Watson has successfully sponsored 6,500 surgeries, transforming the lives of the cleft children and their families,” said Malina Ngai, CEO of AS Watson (Asia & Europe). “The surgeries have not only improved the children’s physical well-being but also their mental well-being. At first, we aimed to transform 10,000 smiles by 2030, and now we expect to surpass this target by 2026.”

When asked about the selection process for beneficiaries, AS Watson explained that beneficiaries are chosen through collaboration between Operation Smile Inc. and the local government unit. Data from these institutions is used to identify children and individuals who can benefit from this initiative.

Meanwhile, Malina acknowledged the efforts of doctors, medical professionals, and Watson’s volunteers. But above all, she thanked Watson’s customers for their continued support in making these operations and initiatives possible.

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AS Watson volunteers

“When we designed the program, it is not just about a donation from a sponsor. We have awareness program internally for the colleagues, we already have 17,000 colleagues who participated as volunteers and all the markets we operate including the Philippines,” she said. “For the customers, we also raise awareness that there are needs for people with cleft condition. And you can also donate you can be part of that. So it’s joined forces and a meaningful program for us.”

But the fight doesn’t end here. There are still hundreds, if not thousands, of cleft patients in the Philippines alone who need help. Watsons Philippines is inviting its customers to join in their fund drive aimed at assisting children with cleft palate conditions.

They’ve placed Give a Smile donation cans in over 600 Watsons Stores. For those who prefer the convenience of online transactions, donations can also be made through the Watsons Online Store.

Additionally, customers have the option to contribute by donating their Watsons Card and SM Advantage Card points, which will directly contribute to funding essential surgeries.

Credit belongs to : www.mb.com.ph

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