Operation Smile medical volunteers have already delivered free cleft surgery to hundreds of thousands of patients around the globe, but we’re committed to finding and healing the many thousands of children and families who still need our help. 

As we enter our organisation’s next decade, we have made a commitment to increase access to care for 1 million patients who need cleft care and other essential surgeries, particularly those in remote areas.

We will continue to provide world-class cleft surgery and care in more than 30 counties and invest in 40 hospitals to strengthen local health systems.

Children are waiting too long for surgery

Experts agree that the best time to operate on a child with a cleft condition is before their first birthday. This is the ideal age to achieve the best results, but importantly, prevents the child from suffering the life-limiting health problems that often accompany a cleft condition such as malnutrition, recurrent infections, breathing issues, hearing problems and social isolation.

Patients with cleft waiting for surgery

Safe, effective, timely cleft care

Supported by international and local surgical programmes, and our cleft care centres, we’ve been able to provide safe surgery to some of the world’s hardest-to-reach patients, often in resource-limited settings. Our goal for the future is to provide safe cleft surgery for everyone who needs it, regardless of where they live.

Child life specialist Charles from Ghana teaches Yaw how to use the anaesthesia mask before surgery. Photo - Zute Lightfoot

We focus on

Safe, sterile surgical environments

Timely cleft surgery is essential to a child’s long-term health and well-being. 

A team approach

We provide the highest quality, multidisciplinary cleft care supported by our caring and passionate team of certified nurses, anaesthesiologists, paediatricians, surgeons and other specialists.

Setting the stage for future success

During health screenings, we sometimes find that children need nutritional support or additional medical care. We provide this treatment so they can become healthy enough to receive surgery.

Ongoing care

The comprehensive care that children with cleft conditions need is provided year-round by a team of trained, dedicated, compassionate and local volunteers and staff at our 27 cleft care centres in 18 countries. We help patients live more fulfilling lives by providing speech therapy, dentistry, psychosocial care and more.

Building the capacity to heal in Malawi

Through the actions of dedicated and loyal volunteers who strive to make an impact, Operation Smile Malawi’s goal of increasing local surgical capacity remains at the core of its mission.
Little Grace before her life changing surgery
Cleft Surgeon Tilinde Chokotho with cleft patient
Read more