Interplast celebrates 30 years of aid

Cate Swannell
Med J Aust
Published online: 8 July 2013

NOT-for-profit surgery and training provider Interplast Australia and New Zealand (Interplast) is celebrating 30 years of service across the Asia–Pacific region.

Twenty-one thousand surgeries, 500 surgical programs and 32 000 patients across 25 countries later, Interplast’s “best kept secret” status is in danger of being exposed.

Chief executive officer Prue Ingram, speaking in a recent interview in CEO Magazine, said she was justifiably proud of the group’s achievements in improving the quality of life for people who are disabled as a result of congenital or acquired medical conditions such as cleft lip and palate, burn scar contractures, growths, tumours and other reconstructive surgery conditions.1

“We only work in countries we are invited to, and we work very closely with our local partners to determine what the needs are for that particular time and location”, Ms Ingram said.

“When sending a surgical team, we also provide all the supplies and equipment required to undertake the program [because] it’s important … our activities do not place a burden on overstrained hospital facilities.”

Two billion people have no access to basic surgical care worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. But 11% of the global burden of disease can be treated with surgery alone.2

Out of 234 million surgeries performed worldwide each year, the world’s poor get just 3.5% and the world’s richest get 73.6%.

Interplast has sent over 600 volunteers, including Australian and New Zealand plastic and reconstructive surgeons, anaesthetists, nurses and allied health professionals to the Asia–Pacific region to provide free surgical treatment for patients who would otherwise not have access.

It has also supported over 70 surgeons, anaesthetists and nurses from these developing countries to continue their training in Australia in an effort to empower local medical personnel by building their independence.

“We are very proud to have been able to assist in providing what is often basic surgery in Australia across the Asia–Pacific region and are committed to ensuring this continues for generations to come by also equipping the local medical staff, as a result of our training programs”, Ms Ingram said.

1 CEO Magazine 2013; Unsung heroes

2 WHO. Emergency and essential surgical care.

  • Cate Swannell



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