Thai Association of Orthodontists, Khon Kaen University and Thai Red Cross Society participate in second phase of Happy Smile, Happy Heart project to assist cleft lip and palate patients
The Thai Association of Orthodontists (ThaAO), the Khon Kaen University in Khon Kaen, Thailand, and the Thai Red Cross Society launched the second phase of the Happy Smile, Happy Heart project on Sept. 6, 2013, in an effort to raise money that will assist cleft lip and palate patients with travel expenses for their treatment.
In Thailand, the incidence of cleft lip and palate is 1:800. Most of the patients are poor and have to travel long distances to receive treatment at a hospital. The Thai Red Cross Society assists these patients by paying for travel expenses. However, the Thai Red Cross Society has announced that the allotted funding will be depleted in approximately 18 months. This would affect the patients who receive treatment through the ThaAO’s mobile orthodontic unit. On a monthly basis, ThaAO volunteers provide free orthodontic treatment to cleft lip and palate patients at the Maharaj Hospital in Nakhon Ratchasima, a province in northeastern Thailand.
In 2012, the ThaAO, Khon Kaen University and the Thai Red Cross Society started the Happy Smile, Happy Heart project. Through the first phase of the project, the organizers held a charity concert to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the founding of the ThaAO and the 50th anniversary of the founding of the university. The concert raised 4,182,623 Thai Bahts ($132,258 U.S. dollars).
“The concert was a success, but the money will soon be used up again,” said Dr. Somchai Satravaha, president and head of the ThaAO mobile orthodontic unit. “This second phase of the project will find new ways to increase donations.”
The three-year project is seeking sponsors who will pay the patients’ travel expenses by donating 500 Thai Bahts per month for as long as they like. Project organizers are reaching out to dentists, orthodontists and alumni of Khon Kaen University. The Happy Smile, Happy Heart project will have an administrative office at the university. All sponsors will receive a receipt, and donations may be tax deductible, depending on the amount. After administrative expenses are deducted, the project organizers will give the money to the Thai Red Cross Society.
Pictured here are the committee members of the Happy Smile, Happy Heart project: from left, Dr. Charunee Khuttamarsri, an orthodontist and associate professor at Khon Kaen University (KKU); Dr. Chutimaporn Keinprasit, an orthodontist and KKU assistant professor; Lt. Gen. Dr. Amnat Barlee, director of the Thai Red Cross Society’s Relief and Community Health Bureau; Dr. Nawarat Wara-aswapati Charoen, associate professor and dean of the KKU Faculty of Dentistry; Dr. Chairat Charoemratrote, an orthodontist, associate professor at Prince of Songkla University, and president of the Thai Association of Orthodontists (ThaAO); Dr. Somchai Satravaha, an orthodontist, president of the ThaAO Advisory Board and clinical associate professor; Dr. Pichit Siriwan, deputy director of the Thai Red Cross Society’s Relief and Community Health Bureau; Dr. Tasanee Wangsrimongkol, head of the KKU Department of Orthodontics and an associate professor; Dr. Wichai Rattanayatikul, president of the KKU Faculty of Dentistry’s Alumni Society; and Ms. Usa Boonplian, a Thai Red Cross Society nurse.