Along a dusty roadside in the state of Ceará in northern Brazil, Antonia sips a cold drink on a hot day at the local coconut stand with her father and sister.
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Antonia after her life changing surgery. Photo: Marc Ascher
Whether travelling from surrounding villages or distant islands, families in the Philippines seeking cleft surgeries for their children must sacrifice precious time and resources to reach Operation Smile medical programme sites.
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Loraine and her family. Photo: Jörgen Hildebrandt.
After more than two years of the pandemic preventing Operation Smile from providing cleft surgeries in Madagascar, an international team of medical volunteers were finally able to unite to provide patients with care in Tamatave during the last week of April 2022.
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Six-years-old Honoré, before cleft surgery. Photos: Jörgen Hildebrandt
Joseph walks in his flip-flops behind his father and stepmother through their neighborhood in San Remigio on the Philippine island of Cebu.
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Joseph runs in an open filed, before cleft surgery. Photo Jörgen Hildebrandt
Claudina knew that her 16-year-old daughter, Wara, had a high-risk pregnancy. But she never imagined the series of challenges that would ultimately unfold after Wara went into labour.
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Baby girl with cleft being held by her grandmother
Through the actions of dedicated and loyal volunteers who strive to make an impact, Operation Smile Malawi’s goal of increasing local surgical capacity remains at the core of its mission.
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Little Grace before her life changing surgery

Programme updates

Find out how our surgical programmes are strengthening local health systems and training the next generation of medical leaders.

Training anaesthetists in Rwanda

Anaesthesia is vital to the delivery of safe surgery, but there is a dramatic shortage of trained anaesthetists in Rwanda. In this densely popualated country, 11.9 million people are served by just 15 anaesthetists and anaesthesiologists.

Dr Paulin Banguti is working to fill this void – he’s director of the post-graduate anaesthesia programme at the University of Rwanda. During the March 2016 Operation Smile surgical training rotation at Rwinkwavu District Hospital, he led a group of anaesthesia residents to observe and learn from volunteer anaesthesiologists from around the world.

Medical staff prepare a patient for anaesthesia

Strengthening health systems in Malawi

To enable Operation Smile to serve and treat more people living with cleft conditions, we focus on increasing the surgical capacity of low-and middle-income countries like Malawi so that cleft care for local people can continue, even after a surgical programme ends.

Operation Smile Malawi has worked to encourage and educate local surgeons, doctors and nurses, and now has nearly 50 percent of its medical volunteers from Malawi. Surgical training rotations train and empower local surgeons to help their own communities and strengthen health systems for the future.

Cleft Surgeon Tilinde Chokotho with cleft patient