Interplast teams head back to the Pacific

This year, Interplast’s volunteer surgical and healthcare teams are once again preparing to travel to developing nations across the Pacific to deliver life-changing surgery and care.

The COVID-19 pandemic restricted Interplast to remote support for clinicians and patients in developing nations, for the first time since Rotary co-founded Interplast with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in 1983.

Since 2020, Interplast has reached thousands of clinicians across 35 countries with essential training, but now our focus is turning back to mobilising teams.

There are adults and children living with debilitating but treatable conditions – cancer, burns, congenital defects and traumatic injuries. They have been forced to live with disability and stigma, waiting for Interplast teams to visit again. For some, the wait for treatment has become life-threatening.

Children born with cleft lips and palates are often malnourished, because they simply cannot ingest enough milk to grow and thrive. In Australia and New Zealand, babies receive cleft-repair surgery within the first few months of life. But for children like Rockson, from Solomon Islands, who was born with a severe cleft lip and palate, the wait for surgery can be years.

Rockson was five when he first met Interplast volunteer surgeon Dr Zac Moaveni. Rockson had the worst cleft that Zac had ever seen. He couldn’t go to school, and was ostracised by other villagers, who thought that witchcraft was to blame for his appearance.

In his first surgery, Rockson’s cleft lip was repaired, and his nose reconstructed using a bone graft from one of his ribs. One year later, Zac was able to perform a second surgery to repair Rockson’s cleft palate.

Now other patients in desperate need like Rockson was, will once again be able to access free, life-changing, surgical care from an Interplast team.

For 39 years Rotary has been an integral part of Interplast’s work. Rotarians and Rotary clubs across Zone 8 continue to be among Interplast’s most valued supporters.

“Rotarians have been with us since the beginning, and have continued to support us throughout COVID,” Dr Moaveni said. “The legacy of Rotary’s relationship has meant that we have been able to deliver more than 26,000 operations in the past 39 years.”
Interplast and Rotary – an enduring partnership, changing lives together.