Smile Train is an international organization that takes a sustainable approach to repairing cleft lip and palate in children all over the world. Smile Train’s model provides training and funding to empower local doctors in over 85 developing countries to provide cleft repair surgery in their communities at no cost to the patient.
The Amref Health Africa Surgical Outreach Program uses light aircraft, commercial flights, and road transport to visit more than 155 hospitals on planned circuits, two to six times per year, providing both specialist surgical services and training for local health professionals to improve their surgical skills and patient care. In 2014, the team visited seven countries (Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Uganda, South Sudan, DR Congo and Rwanda) and trained over 1,400 doctors. Reconstructive surgery is among the top nine specialty areas covered by the outreach team. Since 2005, Smile Train and Amref Health Africa have partnered together to provide cleft lip and palate surgery for children living in remote areas without routine access to surgical services.
Project in Focus – Cleft Lip and Palate Surgical Outreach
Approximately 10,000 infants are born with cleft lip and/or palate throughout East Africa each year. Most can’t afford surgery. Cleft repair surgery is simple, and the transformation is immediate. With Smile Train support, Amref Health Africa provides free cleft repair surgeries to those in need while also building the surgical skills of local health care providers and improving access to essential medicines, tools, and equipment. Our Train the Trainers (TOT) model focusing on training local doctors to perform cleft repairs in their communities. These doctors then go on to train other doctors creating a long-term, sustainable system. The partnership also allows us to promote these surgical services through radio interviews, television interviews and brochures and generate demand for the surgical services.
Prior to the Smile Train partnership, the Amref Health Africa Medical Services Outreach Program performed fewer than 200 cleft operations each year. Today the team performs over twice that many cleft operations and, over the life of the project, has performed over 7,500 cleft surgeries at no cost to the patients. Read more about our Surgical Outreach program.