A core focus for Facing the World has always been to develop skills in regional centres to allow children and adults to be treated by local teams in their home countries. Teaching craniofacial techniques to surgeons outside the UK will enable sustainable facilities in countries where vital multi-disciplinary surgery has not previously been possible.
In 2008, Facing the World began a partnership with Danang General Hospital in Vietnam. Vietnam has a higher incidence of children born with severe facial disfigurement than almost anywhere else in the world. Some believe this to be linked to the use of a herbicide called Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.
With its existing infrastructure and skills, and the many people in desperate need of help, Danang General Hospital has been the perfect partner for Facing the World to establish a craniofacial training and treatment programme.
Over the last five years the training programme has included:
- Facing the World’s surgical team from London visiting Danang for two weeks each year to lecture, train and perform surgery jointly with the local teams.
- Training Fellowships for surgeons in the United Kingdom.
- The provision of the surgical instruments necessary for the performance of facial reconstruction surgery.
- Developing an appropriate library of teaching materials, made up of conventional textbooks and a database of electronic papers covering the most recent scientific literature.
- Creation of a web-based telemedicine link between the surgeons in London and Danang to facilitate the treatment of more complex cases in Vietnam with direct support from Facing the World’s London team.
The result of this pioneering programme is that over 100 patients, both children and adults, are seen each year, receiving the surgery and support care that they need. Through this successful partnership we are learning valuable lessons about the viability of this work and how further capacity building programmes can be developed elsewhere.
In September of 2013, BBC1’s ‘Inside Out’ programme aired a powerful documentary featuring the work of Facing the World’s surgeons in Vietnam. You can read more about this, here, and watch the documentary on Youtube.