Thirty-five physicians and nurses from hospitals across China are being hosted at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa.

The group, which arrived at Rambam about a month and a half ago, is part of a three-month training program initiated by the hospital in which the medical and nursing staff learn about how a large Israeli hospital is run.

The Chinese reciprocated by showing Rambam staffers how to participate in a Tai Chi class.

The guests from China, group photo and Tai Chi class.

Meanwhile, Rambam surgeons have joined an international team in Africa to correct facial deformities. One of them, craniofacial surgeon Dr. Omri Emodi, recently went to Ghana to operate on children who were born with facial deformities.

He went together with Rambam plastic surgeon Dr. Zach Sharony on a mission organized by Operation Smile, a US-based humanitarian organization, along with a team of surgeons and medical staff from 12 countries.

“If a child has a facial deformity, it can affect eating, drinking, speaking and, of course, his or her own self-image,” explained Emodi. “It’s as if you walk with a sign on you, especially in Africa.

You could easily be an outcast.”

Patients, ranging in age from a few months to their 20s, came from all over Ghana, some as far as 800 kilometers away. Most of the operations were on cleft lips and palates, while others involved more complex facial deformities.

Working nonstop in seven makeshift surgery rooms in the capital city of Ho, the doctors operated on many patients in particularly challenging circumstances. The 155 operations were completed in eight days.

“You work with a team that you do not know and who come from another culture. But once you get into the rhythm, everyone becomes one team, motivated by the desire to help these people,” said Emodi. “It may take less than an hour for an operation, but it can change a child’s life.

The mission was so satisfying,” he added.

The procedures were done at no cost to the children or their families, as Operation Smile underwrites the project. The challenge is to reach as many possible in the short time available.

“In Ghana, with a population of 20 million, there are only 20 qualified surgeons who can perform these operations,” he added.

The two Rambam doctors previously took part in missions to Vietnam, Ethiopia, the Philippines and other countries, treating dozens of patients wherever they go. They have also taken care of Palestinians and patients from war-torn Syria and neighboring Arab countries.

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