As the world commemorates World Smile Day® today, Smile Train, the world’s leading cleft organization, joined various partners to raise awareness around the stat, 1 in 700 babies are born with a cleft globally.
Smile Train Vice President and Regional Director of Africa, Dr. Esther Njoroge noted that the organization continues to educate the public about cleft and where to access free treatment.
She added that Smile Train’s unique model of training medical professionals at local level has supported the organization’s initiatives. She took the opportunity to underscore latest partnerships with College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) and West African College of Surgeons (WACS) to provide scholarships for reconstructive and cleft surgery training.
“The wide gap between cleft births and those accessing cleft treatment can no longer be ignored in the quest for universal health coverage. Many patients go untreated despite the availability of quality healthcare in reputable hospitals in various parts of the continent. Smile Train partners with hospitals at community level to ensure that patients from low income backgrounds receive the same global standards of cleft treatment at no extra cost,” said Dr. Njoroge.
Smile Train goes the extra mile to train the cleft ecosystem of medical professionals from cleft surgeons, anesthetists, nurses, nutritionists and orthodontists to community health volunteers.
Adding: “Our strategic partnerships with the colleges of surgeons across the continent not only empowers the surgeons to be able to treat cleft, but also increases human capital for surgery, ensuring that as a continent we are on a progressive trajectory towards achieving health for all.
Smile Train goes the extra mile to train the cleft ecosystem of medical professionals from cleft surgeons, anesthetists, nurses, nutritionists and orthodontists to community health volunteers. Community health volunteers and nurses who have acquired trust among their communities have also been instrumental in encouraging patients to receive treatment.”
To mark the day, Smile Train invites the public to post a photo of themselves and stand with Smile Train who has supported more than 1.5 million cleft surgeries in more than 90 countries. Tag @SmileTrain and hashtag #WorldSmileDay #ICreateSmiles #1in700 to raise more awareness about cleft via social media.
Smile Train continues to reach out to local communities, dispelling myths and misinformation that surround cleft. A cleft is a common birth difference that occurs when certain body parts and structures do not fuse together during fetal development.
They can involve the lip and/or the roof of the mouth, which is made up of both the hard and soft palate. Causes of a cleft remain unknown but risk factors include environmental factors, lack of proper nutrition, as well as genetics. Many children with clefts around the world live in isolation, making it difficult to make friends and go to school, but more importantly, have difficulty eating, breathing, and speaking.
Smile Train has been actively supporting programs in Africa since 2002. In that time, the organization has developed local partnerships with more than 245 partner hospitals and 255+ medical partners in 38 countries throughout Africa to provide free cleft treatment. To date, Smile Train’s local medical partners have provided more than 113,000 life-changing cleft surgeries across Africa.