Operation Smile reaches a major milestone! The organization is celebrating and commemorating 35 years of offering free surgeries, 35 years of increasing access to health care, 35 years of changing lives.
Operation Smile was founded in 1982 by Dr. William "Bill" P. Magee Jr. and his wife Kathy following a medical mission to the Philippines. Thirty-five years later it has provided hundreds of thousands of surgeries to children with cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial conditions. The organization has provided millions of screenings, patient interactions and consultations via 160 annual medical missions and at 29 international care centers. As a result of Operation Smile's commitment to education and training programs, this year 81 percent of the medical volunteer positions filled on our missions were held by health care professionals from low- and middle-income countries.
To culminate the year-long celebration, from World Smile Day Oct. 6 through the end of the year, Operation Smile will conduct 50 global initiatives that feature the cornerstones of its 35-year commitment to:
- Achieve the best possible patient outcomes.
- Provide education and training programs that improve patient safety and strengthen health systems.
- Engage medical volunteers, elevating the quality of service.
- Empower youth to create a compassionate world.
The 50 global initiatives will take place over three months in 27 countries and impact:
- 4,000 patients, provided with cleft and dental care;
- 500 health care workers, trained in Basic Life Support (BLS), Advanced Life Support (ALS) and Pediatric Life Support (PALS) and advanced education in plastic surgery, anesthesiology and nursing;
- 1,500 international medical professionals, who donated their time and expertise to treat and train others.
Throughout the 35th anniversary year, Operation Smile's global UNTIL WE HEAL campaign has united partners around the world to advance access to safe surgery for all people with cleft conditions. The campaign creates platforms for activism, awareness, government engagement and the establishment of medical programs to create long-term solutions. So far, more than 9,300 supporters and world leaders have signed the UNTIL WE HEAL pledge.
In South Africa Operation Smile supporters, influencers and celebrities are celebrating the 35th anniversary by raising money and spreading awareness for Operation Smile via their #35Smilesin35Days campaign. In Peru student volunteers are advocating as Smile Change Makers, Agentes de Cambio in Spanish. They are collecting change to provide other children with access to safe surgery and they'll have the opportunity to see the effects of their fundraising as volunteers on medical programs in Lima and Puno, Peru.
Operation Smile Philippines was the first country to sign the UNTIL WE HEAL pledge with support from Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo who signed it at a medical mission in Cebu. The First Lady of Honduras Ana Garcia Carias de Hernandez also signed the pledge as part of her Vida Mejor campaign, which aims to advocate for the nation's women and children. Eight global leaders have signed so far.