High-ranking hospital staff in beneficiary countries like Vietnam and Cambodia were unwilling to develop their own craniofacial surgical teams, because countries like the US, France, and Japan were giving direct subsidies (such as U$50 per operation), which was straightforward and simple.
It took an adjustment period of a few years before beneficiary countries finally realized that “we sincerely wanted to help them.” Rebecca Wang, CEO of the NCF, says that it was only after several years of visits and evaluations that anesthesiologists at the National Pediatric Hospital in Cambodia revealed that they didn’t dare to do craniofacial surgery because they didn’t have adequate skills in anesthetizing young children for complex operations. As you might expect, the first time a volunteer surgical team went to Cambodia, the hallways were packed with patients wanting treatment. In four days the volunteers conducted over 50 operations, exhausting the doctors and nurses.
With the aim of making it possible for children elsewhere with cleft lip or cleft palate to receive the same treatment as children in Taiwan, as of May 2019 the NCF, in cooperation with Chang Gung Memorial Hospital (CGMH), has made 83 visits to nine countries to offer free surgery to 1,994 poor patients. They have also trained 173 seed medical professionals (including surgeons, orthodontists, and speech therapists) from 21 countries, and guided the founding of more than 20 craniofacial centers or teams overseas. They have achieved a great deal for Taiwan in terms of “medical diplomacy,” and their reputation has even drawn requests from doctors in Russia to come to Taiwan for training.