Around half of children born with a cleft palate will need support with learning to speak – thankfully, volunteer speech and language therapists like Erika Bostock are helping to ensure children with cleft conditions have a voice.
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Speech Pathologist Erika Bostock Operation Smile Programme to Emalahleni, Mpumulanga, South Africa - Witbank Hospital. Photo: Zeke du Plessis
At 31 years old, Ephraim is proud of the life he has built for his family. He and his girlfriend, Ldaudzine, are raising their two young sons, Nkhosama and Tawananyasha, in Centurion, South Africa, where he works at a natural gas company.
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Cleft in adult. Ephraim holds a photo of himself before cleft surgery.

Programme updates

Find out how our surgical programmes are strengthening local health systems and training the next generation of medical leaders.

Training anaesthetists in Rwanda

Anaesthesia is vital to the delivery of safe surgery, but there is a dramatic shortage of trained anaesthetists in Rwanda. In this densely populated country, 11.9 million people are served by just 15 anaesthetists and anaesthesiologists.

Dr Paulin Banguti is working to fill this void – he’s director of the post-graduate anaesthesia programme at the University of Rwanda. During the March 2016 Operation Smile surgical training rotation at Rwinkwavu District Hospital, he led a group of anaesthesia residents to observe and learn from volunteer anaesthesiologists from around the world.

Medical staff prepare a patient for anaesthesia

Strengthening health systems in Malawi

To enable Operation Smile to serve and treat more people living with cleft conditions, we focus on increasing the surgical capacity of low-and middle-income countries like Malawi so that cleft care for local people can continue, even after a surgical programme ends.

Operation Smile Malawi has worked to encourage and educate local surgeons, doctors and nurses, and now has nearly 50 percent of its medical volunteers from Malawi. Surgical training rotations train and empower local surgeons to help their own communities and strengthen health systems for the future.

Cleft Surgeon Tilinde Chokotho with cleft patient