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Humanitarian Cleft Care in Southeast Asia: Military–Civilian Partnerships and the Role of the US Navy Ship Mercy

Lim, Alan A. MD*; Salas, Carlos DDS; Kumar, Anand R. MD

Journal of Craniofacial Surgery: November 2012 - Volume 23 - Issue 7 - p S8–S11
doi: 10.1097/SCS.0b013e31825b382d
Original Articles

The primary mission of the US Navy (USN) is to maintain superior naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression, and maintaining freedom of the seas. However, a major core capability of the present-day USN includes the ability to effectively and rapidly provide humanitarian assistance and disaster response whenever the need arises. Occurring annually since 2006, Pacific Partnership is an ongoing USN operation that aims to strengthen regional alliances and improve delivery of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. A major focus of Pacific Partnership 2010 was the delivery of medical care to underserved communities in the region. A significant portion of the medical mission was specifically directed toward the treatment of patients with cleft lip and palate. As the main operational platform, the USN Ship Mercy provided an unparalleled environment in which to provide state-of-the-art multidisciplinary treatment to patients with cleft lip and palate. With the cooperation of host nations and locally active nongovernmental organizations, a sustainable model for providing treatment for cleft lip and palate can be developed.

From the *Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Naval Medical Center, Portsmouth, Virginia; †University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine, Aurora, Colorado; and ‡Division of Pediatric Plastic Surgery, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Received February 29, 2012.

Accepted for publication April 18, 2012.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Alan A. Lim, MD, CAPT, MC, USN, Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, 620 John Paul Jones Circle, Portsmouth, VA 23708; E-mail:

The views in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Navy, Department of Defense, or the US government.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

© 2012 Mutaz B. Habal, MD