Operation Smile Announces Global Strategy to Improve Access to Safe Surgery
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Operation Smile today announced its new global strategy to expand efforts to improve access to safe, effective surgical care. It is estimated that more than two billion people worldwide lack access to any surgical care, often due to economic constraints, the lack of medical personnel and surgical equipment, or because they reside in remote locations far away from surgical sites. Widely known for providing free surgeries to children who suffer from cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial conditions, Operation Smile is now investing $250 million over the next five years to increase efforts to transfer medical expertise to improve surgical capacity in 40 countries, eradicate the backlog of hard-to-access cleft patients and provide life-changing surgeries to countless children and young adults.
“This is an incredibly formative time for Operation Smile. We have an opportunity to play a significant role in the Post-2015 Agenda to ensure safe, timely and effective surgery for everyone around the globe,” said Dr. William Magee, Co-Founder and CEO of Operation Smile. “With three decades of experience behind us, we are well positioned to help reshape health care systems worldwide through increased access to surgical care,” he added.
In 2015, Operation Smile conducted 161 medical missions across 112 sites in 29 countries, including new sites in Morocco, Myanmar, Nicaragua and Ghana. In the first three months of 2016, Operation Smile medical volunteers will perform 3,000 surgeries over the course of 39 medical missions in 19 countries. To enhance the level of care provided, Operation Smile will conduct several multi-site programs, as well as add three new care centers in Ecuador, Nicaragua and Paraguay, to its 25 existing centers in 2016. The objective will not only be to change the lives of children and their families through a 45-minute corrective surgery, but to also provide training to local medical personnel that will help to transform the healthcare systems in these countries. Ten of the upcoming missions will focus specifically on surgical training and educational programs to improve surgical capacity and overall healthcare services locally.
The newly adopted United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal Three (SDG3) shines a spotlight on the urgent need to improve essential healthcare services to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.” Operation Smile will continue to increase efforts to advocate for patients who have no access to care through its critical work in low- and middle-income countries and its global awareness efforts to ensure surgical care is prioritized as part of the sustainable development agenda.
“Operation Smile believes that safe surgical care is an essential component of healthcare and a universal human right,” said Kathleen Magee, Co-Founder and President of Operation Smile. “We are making a significant investment to support the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals because this fits squarely into the vision and mission of Operation Smile to create a world where no child or adult suffers from lack of access to care.”
In addition to its continued surgical programs, Operation Smile will work with governments, hospitals and ministries of health in low- and middle-income countries to educate and train local medical personnel, while establishing crucial partnerships that build long-term capacity, improve surgical standards and transform healthcare systems over time. Utilizing the organization’s patient-centered approach, Operation Smile plans to employ new strategies to help individuals overcome the geographic, economic and social barriers to care, to research the causes of cleft conditions, and donate essential supplies and medical equipment to surgical sites around the world.
About Operation Smile
Operation Smile is an international medical charity, which provides free surgeries to children in developing countries who are born with cleft lip, cleft palate or other facial conditions. It is one of the oldest and largest volunteer-based organizations dedicated to improving the health and lives of children worldwide through access to surgical care. Since it was founded in 1982, Operation Smile has developed expertise in mobilizing volunteer medical teams to conduct surgical missions in resource-poor environments while adhering to the highest standards of care and safety. Operation Smile helps to fill the gap in providing access to safe, well-timed surgeries by partnering with hospitals, governments and ministries of health, training local medical personnel, and donating much-needed supplies and equipment to surgical sites around the world. Founded and based in Virginia, Operation Smile has a presence in more than 60 countries and a global network of credentialed surgeons, pediatricians, doctors, nurses, and student volunteers.