How Smile Train is Navigating the Coronavirus Pandemic


Smile Train’s top priority remains, as always, the safety and well-being of our beneficiaries, medical partners, friends, family, and global supporters.

Since the onset of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we estimate that more than 39,000 free, lifesaving cleft surgeries have been put on hold.

Where it is safe to do so, we are hard at work resuming surgeries, and our nimble teams have adapted to constantly changing conditions. Since April, we have supported more than 30,000 cleft surgeries in over 55 countries, and our partners around the globe are operating at 55% capacity compared to the same period last year.  While we’ll temporarily postpone surgeries where advisable, our work doesn’t stop. Smile Train’s sustainable model of empowering local medical professionals within their own communities enables us to react quickly to unprecedented events. We are continuing to support our international teams based on their unique needs, and many of our local medical partners are still on the ground acting as invaluable resources to their communities.

Smile Train has invested in the distribution of more than $1M in necessary equipment for partners and patients, including personal protective equipment (PPE), handwashing and sanitation facilities, and masks. We’re making essential items available to empower partners to continue cleft care while protecting themselves and their patients, including pulse oximeters and non-contact infrared thermometers, as well as providing grants to fund COVID testing.

Where surgeries have been postponed, Smile Train has supported our partners to provide ongoing comprehensive cleft care to patients. Many of our providers continue to use telehealth to remain in touch with their patients, helping to care for them even while remaining socially distant. During the pandemic, Smile Train has provided more than 11,500 sessions of telehealth services — including speech therapy, nutritional support, breastfeeding guidance for mothers of babies with clefts, pre-surgical consultations, and psychosocial care — to more than 7,000 patients.

During times of uncertainty, our supporters step up to ensure our programs will be able to safely continue. Our ability to rapidly expand our telehealth offerings is just one of many examples of how donations transform children’s lives around the world each day. We’ve also increased our investment in “Smile Grants” to cover treatment-related expenses like transportation, lodging, and lost wages for patients and their families — support that has become even more essential given the economic impact of the pandemic.

A baby is born with a cleft every three minutes, even during a pandemic. While the needs of every region and medical partner will remain unique, everyone who works with us at Smile Train shares an unwavering commitment to providing lifesaving cleft treatment. Thanks to you, our passionate and caring supporters, Smile Train will be there to provide our patients and partners the care they need, every step of the way.