A.S. Watson, the world’s largest international health and beauty retailer, is proud to announce the milestone of sponsoring Operation Smile with 5,000 corrective surgeries worldwide, as well as launching the Women in Medicine program which empowers women in the medicine and healthcare sector to provide educational pathways for women to be global leaders in medicine, health care, and surgery.
According to Malina Ngai, CEO of A.S. Watson (Asia & Europe), “At A.S. Watson, we’re not only putting a smile on our customers’ faces today and tomorrow but also the people who need our help. That’s why we partnered with Operation Smile to launch our first-ever global community program ‘Give a Smile’ in 2018 to raise awareness and funds for children born with cleft palates or cleft lips, giving them beautiful new smiles and fresh hope through life-changing surgeries.”
Since its launch, A.S. Watson and its retail brands have been working hand-in-hand to change the lives of cleft children from all around the world. This year, the Give a Smile campaign has reached a significant milestone of having sponsored 5,000 life-changing surgeries, which is coincidentally the 40th Anniversary medical program of Operation Smile.
Ngai continued, “Every 3 minutes, a child is born with cleft. Cleft conditions not just affect a child’s physical health but also mental health. A timely cleft surgery is very crucial to transform a child’s life and bringing them a healthier and happier future. The 5,000th surgery is such a remarkable milestone for A.S. Watson as it means we’re making great progress in helping more cleft children and their families regain the smiles they deserve.”
“In fact, we cannot do it alone. It’s a joint effort by our people, our customers, and our business partners. Every one of them is part of the achievement we’ve made and their tremendous support will continue to drive us to do more for all cleft children and their families.”
A.S. Watson has an ongoing commitment to empowering women so that every one of them can feel good, confident, and beautiful from the inside and out. It has teamed up with Operation Smile to launch the Women in Medicine program, aiming to educate women in developing economies on advanced medical practices and specialties, empower them to become leaders in global medicine, expand opportunities for female healthcare workers in underserved communities, and elevate the quality of cleft care.
Ngai added, “We are delighted that our global partnership with Operation Smile not only helps cleft children to restore their smile, but we can also help to empower women in the field of medical science. We believe the Women in Medicine program will enable women to play a more leading role in the medicine and healthcare sector, inspiring them to be more confident and professional.”
Kathleen Magee, co-founder and president of Operation Smile said, “The ultimate goal of Women in Medicine is to inspire and enable women to take on leadership roles in the medical field so they can help shape policies that would attract more women into the fold and equip them with global-standard skills to widen access to safe surgery and quality cleft care. We appreciate the tremendous support from A.S. Watson Group for the Women in Medicine program, and giving more smiles to the children suffering from cleft lips or cleft palate through its worldwide Give a Smile program.”
The Women in Medicine program was first launched at Watsons Philippines, which is an all-female international surgical and educational program. The multinational team from 13 different countries conducted a one-day leadership and education day on the impact of women’s role in global health followed by five days of free surgeries, with 59 life-changing surgeries conducted for cleft children.
Maria Fernanda Tapia, a plastic surgeon from Bolivia and Operation Smile Global Surgery Fellow who participated in the Women in Medicine program said, “Women and men are different from each other but that is no reason for women to feel less capable of being part of the healthcare sector. Women have the capabilities to better care for patients, especially the vulnerable ones.”
Belle Pesayco, sustainability champion for Community and Regulatory Affairs Head of Watsons Philippines, who has been leading Watsons’ community program with Operation Smile Philippines for 9 years, said, “I am pleased to be involved in this meaningful program which gives smiles to children and helps transform their lives. I am also very grateful to see the growth of our partnership which empowers the female medical professionals and enriches opportunities for them.”
April Love Arriola Inso, a volunteer from Watsons Philippines was glad to join Cebu’s Women in Medicine surgical program, “It was the third time I joined the Operation Smile program but this all-women workforce has given me an unforgettable experience. Women working together side by side for a surgical program was a really powerful moment for all of us!”
Riding on the successful launch of the Women in Medicine program in the Philippines, A.S. Watson will continue to work closely with Operation Smile to empower more women in the medical field and inspire them to look good, do good, and feel great.