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Press Release April 2, 2019

As a Partner of the Vietnam Ministry of Health, Operation Smile Participates in Conference on Implementing Guidelines for Patient Safety And Safe Surgical Care

Press Release April 2, 2019

As a Partner of the Vietnam Ministry of Health, Operation Smile Participates in Conference on Implementing Guidelines for Patient Safety And Safe Surgical Care

Today the Vietnam Ministry of Health (MoH) conducts a Conference on implementing Guidelines for Quality Standards for Safe Surgery chaired by the Vice Minister of Health Prof. Dr. Nguyen Viet Tien. As a partner of the MoH of Vietnam, Operation Smile representatives will be on hand to participate in the Conference that marks a significant achievement in a multi-year collaboration.

Operation Smile Co-Founders Dr. Bill and Kathy Magee will join more than 400 conference participants including those from various departments of MoH, representatives from provincial health service departments and provincial general hospitals of all 32 provinces in the Northern region of Vietnam, as well as international representatives from World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control, the Lancet Commission, G4 Alliance and Safe Surgery 2020.

The set of eight Quality Standards for Safe Surgery marks an achievement of the collaboration between the Medical Services Administration (MSA) of Vietnam Ministry of Health and Operation Smile. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed in 2014 with the goal to increase access to safe, effective and timely surgical care within Vietnam by developing and implementing quality standards for safe surgery.

The project started with the assessment of current surgical capacity in the country and included hospitals representing all socio-economic zones in Vietnam. The assessment results served as the baseline information for specialists to develop appropriate and feasible safe surgery standards for Vietnam. The drafting team used WHOs’ document “Safe Surgery Saves Lives,” as well as Operation Smile’s Global Standards of Care as references for development of the Standards. The adoption of Safe Surgery Standards will have potential to impact three million surgeries annually throughout Vietnam.

In Vietnam to mark this milestone in Operation Smile’s 37-year history, Operation Smile Co-Founder Dr. Magee stated, “This day has been 30 years in the making, dating back to 1989, when the Vietnamese government welcomed Operation Smile as the first U.S.-based non-governmental organization to enter the country following the conflict in Vietnam. This collaboration with the Ministry of Health has built an incredible bond of trust, and we’re honored that the Ministry invited Operation Smile to join in creating a model to provide safe, effective and timely surgical care to improve the health and dignity of its people that, in time, can be replicated in other countries around the world.”

At the Conference, Vietnam Ministry of Health will provide guidelines on implementing legal documents related to Patient Safety and Safe Surgical Care, specifying in Circular 49/2018/TT-BYT regarding Guidelines on Clinical Tests in Examination and Treatment; Circular 43/2018/TT-BYT regarding Guidelines on Medical Adverse Events Management, and The Decision no. 7482/QD-BYT regarding Quality Standards for Safe Surgery with Eight (8) Safe Surgery Standards officially endorsed, which is effective for adoption across the surgical system of Vietnam, including 1,450 medical facilities in 63 provinces.

Director of Medical Services Administration Department of Vietnam Ministry of Health, Assoc. Prof, Dr. Luong Ngoc Khue stated: “Since the 68th World Health Assembly in 2015 unanimously passed WHA resolution 68.15 on strengthening emergency and essential surgical care and anesthesia as a component of universal health coverage (UHC), the Vietnam Ministry of Health has collaborated with Operation Smile to actively carry out activities in support of this effort. Today’s announcement of the newly endorsed Safe Surgery Standards demonstrates Vietnam’s commitment to excellence in surgery as part of UHC and represents a significant achievement for the entire country.

"Assuring patient safety and safe surgical care is the vital goal of Vietnam's health system, which follows the patient centered principles. The implementation of these circulars and guidelines will contribute to ensuring patient safety and safe surgical care at facilities. These are important issues that require primal concern by health care providers in order to ensure safety and satisfaction for patients,” added Prof Dr. Luong Ngoc Khue.

About Operation Smile:

Operation Smile has provided hundreds of thousands of safe surgeries for those born with cleft lip, cleft palate or other facial conditions. With more than three decades of expertise, Operation Smile creates solutions that deliver free surgery to people where it’s needed most.  As one of the largest medical volunteer-based nonprofits, Operation Smile has mobilized thousands of medical volunteers from a wide range of medical specialties from more than 80 countries. Operation Smile engages public-private partnerships to advance health care delivery, train local medical professionals to provide surgical care for patients in their communities, donate crucial medical equipment and supplies, and increase access to surgical care so that everyone living with cleft is treated. Visit, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.


Operation Smile has been present in Vietnam since 1989, engaging more than 200 Vietnamese medical volunteers in delivery of its programs that have provided life-changing surgery to over 44,000 patients to date.



It takes as little as $240 and as few as 45 minutes to provide life-changing surgery and a bright, beautiful new smile to a waiting child.