Global nonprofit Operation Smile announced a 10-year commitment to increase access to care for 1 million patients who need cleft care and other essential surgeries. Entering its 40thanniversary year, the organization will scale up its investments in underserved remote areas around the world.
The announcement marks an evolution for Operation Smile, which will continue to work as the leading global nonprofit specializing in expert cleft surgery and care and will focus more intensely on transforming local health systems. The organization’s new vision includes creating expanded opportunities for women in medicine, investing significantly in research, innovation, surgical education, and youth empowerment, all of which are factors that impact cleft care.
“As we enter our organization’s next decade, we are deeply focused on increasing the number of high-quality cleft surgeries, which requires strengthening local health systems,” said Operation Smile Co-Founder and CEO Dr. Bill Magee. “We’re committing today, to transforming lives by challenging inequities in the health system head-on to serve a million people who need care.”
Founded in 1982, Operation Smile has provided free, life-changing surgical and dental care for more than 326,000 patients, enabling them to eat, breathe, speak, and live healthier lives. With each surgery, the organization has seen how gaps in health care infrastructure create barriers to access and perpetuate inequities in health care systems.
“Our experience has shown us that long-term investments in health care infrastructure and partnerships with local medical leaders are critical to serve children with cleft conditions, and that our work and presence in a country provides greater access to high-quality care,” said Kathy Magee, Co-Founder and President of Operation Smile. “Our focus will always be on cleft care, but we are also empowering our world-class medical teams fueled by 6,000 global volunteers to provide comprehensive care for patients autonomously.”
Over the next 10 years, Operation Smile will collaborate with local partners, including ministries of health, donors, corporations and academic institutions to bolster in-country health systems to reach its goal of increasing access to care for 1 million patients.
Initial investments as part of the organization’s next decade of commitments include:
- $8 million investment in Guatemala over five years, which will support five hospitals across the country to provide cleft surgery for 1,200 patients and comprehensive care for 3,400 patients
- $10 million investment over five years to support a network of hospitals and care providers across seven geographic areas in Mexico, which will provide care for 4,500 patients
- $9 million investment over five years to support patient care in Colombia, including in Riohacha Hospital, a public hospital located at the border with Venezuela where indigenous communities and migrants receive care
- $6 million investment over five years to support the CHUK Hospital hub in Rwanda and outlying locations, including surgeon and clinical support, patient nutrition, dentistry and more
To ensure the long-term success of these investments, Operation Smile is partnering with local stakeholders to revolutionize how health systems deliver surgical care in underserved areas around the world.
“Philippines has been one of the major hubs of Operation Smile and was actually founded here. So this milestone is especially important to us. It’s a great time to rededicate ourselves to our commitment to provide access to high-quality and holistic care to Filipino children and their communities. So we can continue the legacy of 40 years of learning and success,” said Emiliano Romano, Executive Director of Operation Smile Philippines.