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Francoise Mukagaju

The Next Decade

The Next Decade

All children deserve access to high-quality health care. Through our work, we have provided free life-changing surgical and comprehensive care for more than 400,000 patients. But more is needed. In the countries where we work, 5 million people live with untreated cleft conditions. Most are beyond the reach of existing hospital care. They need our help.  

Over the next decade, we will work to empower more people to care for more patients in more places. We will continue to provide world-class cleft surgery and care in more than 30 countries, invest in 40 hospitals to co-create programs and increase access to safer care for 1 million patients in need of cleft and essential surgical care. 

"The child with a cleft condition took us back to the community, to show us the need and get us to pay attention to the health system."

Passionately Focused on Quality of a Child’s Care
Our comprehensive care model offers quality, patient-centered and continuous cleft treatment. Our multidisciplinary teams of specialists provide patients with care through our dental programs, speech clinics, nutrition clinics and psychological support. These programs are provided in conjunction with cleft surgical programs in a hospital setting at our care centers located in 20 countries. Over the next decade, Operations Smile will expand availability and access to comprehensive cleft care, bringing it closer to our patients’ communities. 

Partnering to Build Solutions that Last
Building on the trust and relationships established over 40 years, we will co-create programs with local medical leaders to improve how hospitals deliver surgical care through investments in infrastructure, equipment, supplies and training. 

More than 80% of our medical volunteers come from the low- and middle-income countries we serve. This takes education and partnership – empowering local health professionals through training. The availability of more trained and qualified medical professionals dramatically increases access to care. Mentoring and equipping health care professionals in low- and middle-income countries gives them the skills and resources they need to better serve their communities.

Transforming Lives at Scale
Transforming lives at scale requires research and innovative projects that drive decision-making, as we seek to improve access to safe surgical care for patients in the countries we work. Over the next decade, our research and innovation programs will expand through partnerships with other research institutions, through strategic organization-led research and through translating the results of research into innovative programs and initiatives.

Signature Initiatives

Women in Medicine 2020 Team Photo

Women in Medicine

Women make up 70% of the health care work force but hold just 25% of leadership roles in health institutions. The Women in Medicine initiative will increase medical training, academic and leadership opportunities for female health care professionals through structured mentorship programs across four regions of the world. ​

The Champion Program

The Operation Smile Champion program drives impactful change in a country that they have committed to and support educational exchanges that will help to develop the next generation of leaders. 

Transcending Borders

In 2022, over 100 million people were displaced worldwide due to violence, conflict or human rights violations. We recognize that families in search of better lives face obstacles. In Latin American and in the Middle East and North Africa region, our programs decrease those barriers and promote access to health care for all.

Students explore the International Learning Center

Youth & Leadership

We will invest in youth and leadership. The Next Decade of Love & Leadership will create expanded opportunities for field program support to engage the next generation of global leaders. ​

A Training Session at a Women in Medicine Surgical Program

Operation Smile Academy

Operation Smile Academy is an online learning and mentorship service for cleft care professionals. Our goal is to increase the capacity of health professionals and health systems to treat people affected by cleft conditions.

No single NGO, government or corporation alone can tackle the need in the world. Over the years, Operation Smile’s work has expanded because of the trust and partnerships the organization has built on the ground. 

Demonstrating the power of coordinated efforts, Operation Smile will leverage global, regional and local resources, and aim them at the areas of greatest need through cross-sectoral collaboration with governments, corporations, NGOs and civil society. 

We believe that, together, we can bring about transformative change that will improve the lives and livelihoods of the people we treat and the professionals who serve them.

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.