Smile Train and CURE Expand Partnership to Reach More Children

A universal trait of parenthood is the desire to see their child smile. Yet, for hundreds of thousands of children, their smile brings social stigma, rejection, and pain. Even worse, certain cleft/palate conditions can be life-threatening as they lead to severe malnutrition.

For fifteen years, CURE has worked closely with Smile Train, the world’s largest cleft charity, to bring hope and healing to children born with cleft lips and palates. Since 2007, the organisations have partnered to provide more than 15,000 cleft surgeries for children living in seven different countries ranging from West Africa to Southeast Asia.

The two leading non-profit organisations have recently agreed to expand their successful partnership by offering comprehensive cleft care across CURE’s network of children’s hospitals using a combination of Smile Train resources and CURE medical professionals and facilities.

Comprehensive cleft care is a multidisciplinary approach designed to ensure that every child born with a cleft condition has access to a portfolio of essential treatments, including feeding/nutrition services, hearing services, speech/language therapy, psychosocial support, and dental/orthodontic care.

In addition to offering these important services at all seven paediatric orthopaedic hospitals in the CURE network, the organisations have agreed to double the cleft surgical capacity across the network to nearly 2,500 cleft/palate procedures per year. This strategic goal is a positive step forward in treating the estimated 200,000+ babies born each year with a cleft.

CUREkid Oscar was treated for cleft lip and palate at CURE Zambia.

“Serving alongside the world-class Smile Train team is empowering CURE to reach more kids in more ways than ever before,” said Justin Narducci, President and CEO of CURE International. “Working together with Smile Train, we see a day where every child born with a cleft condition will have access to comprehensive services that they deserve.”

Sharifa before cleft lip/palate surgery at CURE Niger.
Sharifa after cleft lip/palate surgery at CURE Niger.

“This partnership is a win-win as CURE and Smile Train are aligned with a goal of changing more lives of cleft-affected children,” said Susannah Schaefer, President and CEO of Smile Train. Children born with clefts need more than surgery. Together, we’re committed to treating the whole patient through programs that provide access to important comprehensive cleft care services.”

Children with untreated cleft conditions face physical difficulties in eating, breathing, hearing, and speaking. Furthermore, cleft conditions often cause children to be significantly stigmatized from a very early age by adults and their peers during the most formative time of their lives. The treatment for cleft conditions is a safe, permanent, and time-tested surgical procedure that is one of the best low-cost, high-impact medical interventions available today.

[This article was originally posted to the CURE International website on 5th December 2022]

Photo of the Melissa Hall

About the Author:

Melissa joined CURE UK in June 2021, heading up the marketing, communications, and events activities. She loves the mission of CURE International, and looks forward to a visit to the CURE Children's Hospital of Zimbabwe in September this year!