As the life changing OPSA missions has evolved over the years, it has become apparent that there is a need to train plastic surgeons in Pakistan who are keen to learn, to sustain the service locally and develop they're own sustainability further. 

Compared to the UK there are many fewer plastic surgeons in Pakistan in comparison to the UK. Therefore, are extremely busy, so it is very difficult to recruit.

Number of Plastic Surgeons (approx):

  • Pakistan – 53
  • UK – 260, consultants who are registered with BAAPS (British Association of Aesthetic & Plastic Surgeons). In total there are +/- 1039 surgeons associated with plastic surgeon.  This includes consultants, trainees (registrars), and juniors (senior house officers). (Ref Royal College of Surgeons, England 2015). 

Number of Plastic Surgeons (per 1000 capita)

  • Pakistan – 0.74 in 2004
  • UK – 2.2 per in 2003

One such surgeon, Dr Mushahid took the opportunity offered by Mr Riaz, and a fellow cleft surgeon from the USA, Mr Riffat Hussain, to learn the techniques that are so specialised. He is a consultant paediatric surgeon, a senior office in the Pakistan Military, who gives of his time every weekend to undertake the more straightforward surgical cases (if indeed there is such a thing). This frees up Mr Riaz’ time, plus the time of the visiting senior surgeons who have advanced skills to undertake the most complicated procedures, which take up much more time. 

It is also an amazing opportunity for junior plastic surgeons to see cleft reconstruction surgery. Mr Riaz tries to bring with him at least one junior doctor from the UK to see first-hand this type of specialist surgery. The arrangement is that our extremely generous hosts in Pakistan agree to accommodate the doctor for the week, but that he/she pays his expenses. 

They are likely to observe more cleft lip and palate reconstruction surgery during this one week than most regional specialists cleft surgeons undertake in a year in the UK. Over the previous five years, Mr Riaz has had many junior doctors from the UK take advantage of this massive opportunity. Some have worked with Mr Riaz in his NHS practice at Castle Hill Hospital, Cottingham, East Yorkshire, UK, and although moving to different areas is the association with their advanced formal training, have returned to attend the camp.

Dr Rafique and Dr Tariq also encourage trainees in paediatric anaesthetics to attend, to enhance their experience. Dr Omair Malik was one such trainee. By way of explanation, these ‘trainees’ are fully qualified doctors, registered with the GMC, and pursuing a career in paediatric anaesthesia. 

Dr Malik, who was living and working in Northern Ireland, had completed his specialist training and was a senior registrar at the time of the camp. He has since taken up a position in Edinburgh as a consultant paediatric surgeon.

If you think you have the right skills and might be interested in becoming a medical volunteer, get involved or simply help us do the job in hand by donating, help restore a smile to the face of a child.