Smile Train, the world's largest cleft-focused NGO, announces a major milestone - supporting 700,000 life-changing, free cleft surgeries in India through their network of 150+ partner hospitals across the country.
The announcement was made by Susannah Schaefer, Smile Train's President and Chief Executive Officer, during her visit to Bengaluru. She emphasized that this milestone was just one part of the larger story of how Smile Train is expanding their cleft care footprint in India: In addition to safe, high-quality surgical care, Smile Train also enables a growing number of essential, non-surgical cleft treatments at their partner hospitals, including nutrition and feeding support, orthodontic services, speech therapy, and psychosocial counseling - all to ensure the long-term, successful rehabilitation of every patient according to their unique needs.
Speaking about the achievement, Susannah Schaefer, President & CEO, Smile Train said, "India is one of our largest programs globally and has shown tremendous growth over the last 23 years in terms of the number of partner hospitals and patients receiving treatment every year. The 700,000th surgery milestone is a significant achievement, and our focus for the future remains expanding our comprehensive programs to ensure access to safe, free, high-quality cleft care for every child in need."
One in 700 babies is born with a cleft in India; this translates to more than 35,000 annually. Children with untreated clefts often live in isolation, but more importantly, can have difficulty eating, breathing, hearing, and speaking. Many cleft-affected families cannot afford the cleft surgery and comprehensive care their loved ones need. Unlike mission-trip-based organizations, Smile Train empowers local doctors and hospitals with the funding, training, and resources to provide this often lifesaving care 100% free for all in need, every day of the year.
Mamta Carroll, Vice President & Regional Director for Asia, Smile Train added, "While we celebrate this significant milestone, we remain cognizant that we have a long way to go to ensure comprehensive cleft care for every child in need, while remaining committed to our values. In the process, our strongest pillars of support have been our extensive network of partner hospitals, medical experts, goodwill ambassadors, and of course, our generous donors. Each has helped us grow every step of the way, and we remain forever grateful."
Reaching this milestone would not have been possible without partnerships with like-minded medical and government-led organizations such as National Health Mission's Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK), Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India (FOGSI), and National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers (NABH). Each day, these relationships drive early diagnosis and intervention for children with clefts and enhance the safety and quality of surgical care at treatment centers across the country.
Through every surgery, Smile Train will continue to build awareness and further education to reduce stigma and ensure acceptance for people with clefts in India and around the world.
About Smile Train India
Smile Train empowers local medical professionals with training, funding, and resources to provide free cleft surgery and comprehensive cleft care to children globally. We advance a sustainable solution and scalable global health model for cleft treatment, drastically improving children's lives, including their ability to eat, breathe, speak, and ultimately thrive. Since 2000, Smile Train India has supported more than 700,000 free cleft surgeries across India, through a network of 150+ partner hospitals. To learn more about how Smile Train India's sustainable approach, please visit smiletrainindia.org. For cleft treatment related query or support, please call our toll-free helpline number: 1800 103 8301.