With your help, we’ve built the local capacity to provide surgery and dental care for 19,000+ children each year. We know that people in low resource environments are more than capable of revolutionizing the delivery of care and creating solutions to the problems their people face. All they need are the resources to make it happen. Help us provide essential items to our teams around the world.
We currently provide world-class cleft care in more than 30 countries supported by more than 6,000 volunteers from 60 countries.
International and Local Medical Missions
Each year, we conduct more than 100 medical missions, and every one of them is unique. In some places where we work, we supply medical equipment, and in others, we deploy specialized medical volunteers. Regardless of the location, we work with the local community to create solutions that deliver the highest quality of care possible.
Over the years, we’ve perfected the medical mission model. On an international mission, medical and nonmedical volunteers from around the world come together and work seamlessly to deliver exceptional care to our patients. During local missions, the same quality of care is provided, but it is delivered by local health care professionals. It’s an important milestone when a foundation builds the capacity to host a mission on its own. Learn more about what it took for Operation Smile Ghana to reach this milestone.
Planning a medical mission can take months. Our dedicated patient coordinators execute country-wide awareness and recruitment campaigns in advance to advertise the services we provide. At the same time, our program coordinators handle the logistics required to secure the supplies and the space need to host our patients, their families and our volunteers. The mission itself lasts less than two weeks and includes health screenings, speech and nutrition therapy, dental care, surgery and post-operative care. For a closer look at our medical missions, check out at these scenes of hope and healing from Peru, Mozambique and India.
Year-Round Centers of Care
Our patients’ need for care doesn’t stop when a medical mission ends. That’s why we’ve established 31 centers in 16 countries that provide year-round solutions for those who require more complex treatment than a single mission can provide. At these centers, patients receive free services including dentistry, orthodontics, speech therapy, nutritional counseling, psychosocial care, and cleft and orthognathic surgeries from our dedicated staff and volunteers.
Training and Education Programs
We’re proud that nearly 85% of our medical volunteers are health care professionals from the low- and middle-income countries we serve. A majority of them have received training and education from us. We’re investing in strengthening health systems and partnering with universities, nonprofits and governments with one mission in mind: Delivering safe surgery to people where it’s needed most.
Rwanda faces dire challenges when it comes to the number and skill of its health care professionals: Only two reconstructive plastic surgeons and 18 anesthesiologists serve the country of nearly 12 million people.
Don’t fish for us, teach us how to fish — I like that approach.
- Dr. Faustin Ntirenganya, one of two plastic surgeons in Rwanda and head of surgery at the University of Rwanda
Globally, the need for surgical care extends far beyond cleft conditions. The lack of adequately trained surgical teams forces people to wait years for treatment. We want to alleviate this suffering in Rwanda, and in every country where we work, by empowering local health care workers through training and education.