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The Champion Program

The Champion Program

Through the pillars of mentorship and bidirectional learning, thought leadership and advocacy, Operation Smile’s Champion Program will amplify the work of medical leaders to continue to change lives and offer sustainable solutions to strengthen health care delivery in the countries where we work.

For 40 years, Operation Smile's global medical volunteers have worked together to champion our patients' need for cleft care and build surgical capacity in the countries where we work.

Operation Smile's Champion Program creates opportunities for our medical volunteers to partner with medical leaders who are on the frontlines of cleft surgery and care in their countries. By harnessing their shared medical expertise and advocacy, Operation Smile will continue to change lives and strengthen health care delivery around the world.

Increasing access to cleft surgery and care means addressing the gaps in the health system that create barriers for patients in need of care. The Champion Program aims to bolster the skills of medical professionals and engage them in addressing these gaps to further elevate the capacity to provide quality of care for all.

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Rwanda: A New Generation of Plastic Surgeons

The Champion program establishes long-term relationships between veteran surgeons and medical professionals with under-resourced medical leaders in three ways:

  • Mentorship and Bidirectional Learning: Operation Smile will facilitate exchanges that accelerate the professional development of medical leaders in their country and bolster the skills of the next generation of cleft care professionals and global health leaders.
  • Thought Leadership: Operation Smile will unlock the medical insight and expertise of our medical volunteers to identify potential areas of focus required to further elevate the quality of care in the countries where we work. Their insight will inform Operation Smile's strategic priorities and program planning.
  • Advocacy: Operation Smile will partner with medical leaders to engage strategic hospital partners, academic institutions and governments in our advocacy for the need to increase equitable access to cleft surgery and care.
Anesthesiologists Relax with a Patient in Peten, Guatemala

Guatemala Hosts the Champion Program

In July 2022, a group of international and local volunteers are coming together as part of the Champion Program. Volunteers will learn from each other while providing patient care at the Regional Hospital of Escuintla.

Make Your Gift


Every three minutes, a child is born with a cleft condition. Your gift today will help transform lives and increase access to essential surgical care.