Cleft Care Can Strengthen Entire Health Systems

Nine out of 10 people in low- and middle-income countries cannot access basic surgical care.

Cleft Surgery is Essential Surgery

An infant with a cleft lip looks into the camera.
Our research has shown that infants born with cleft conditions have nine times the risk of dying within the first year of life.

The Economic Impact of a Lack of Access to Surgery

  • A child born with a cleft lip in a country where they don’t receive treatment may grow up to be stigmatized in their community. For that reason, they may drop out of school. Their potential to get an education and skills to contribute to the economy is lost in part because they did not receive surgical care.
  • Similarly, someone is severely injured in a road traffic accident who does not receive quality and affordable surgical care may become disabled. As a result, they are unable to continue working to provide for their self or their family.
A group of children raise their hands in a classroom.
We have made significant progress in improving access to surgery for children with cleft in the countries where we work. Enabling kids like Nazifa to return to school and pursue a brighter future.

Cleft Care Provision Can Help Build National Health Policy

Strengthening The Health Care Workforce Through Cleft Care

  • Global essential surgery projects in Nicaragua and Vietnam that aim to strengthen the capacity of hospitals to deliver ongoing surgical care to the community.
  • Partnerships with the governments of Rwanda and the Federal Republic of Ethiopia to create hands-on educational training programs for surgery and anesthesiology residents.
Medical professionals observe a surgeon during an operation.
We prioritize training and education because one of our core beliefs is that today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders.
  • A partnership with the American Heart Association that has trained more than 10,000 healthcare workers in basic life support.
  • Collaborating with the Madagascar Ministry of Public Health to implement a National Surgical, Obstetric and Anesthesia Plan (NSOAP) that was launched in May 2020. It’s the first policy in Madagascar that comprehensively aims to improve access to quality surgical care for all citizens.

Cleft Care Changes The Way Health Systems Work

A crowd of families waiting for a health screening at an Operation Smile mission in the Philippines
The need is great, but we’re committed to working until every child with a cleft condition has access to the surgical care they deserve.
Headshot of Ernest Gaie, Senior Advisor Global Business Operations, Operation Smile
Ernest Gaie, Senior Advisor Global Business Operations, Operation Smile



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