New Cleft Care Centres
Expanding Access to Cleft Care
An Operation Smile care centre is often the first place where families who have children with cleft lips and cleft palates see other children with similar conditions, share the same worries as other parents, and find comfort as their children receive the cleft care they need. Distance and cost, however, are the primary obstacles many patients and their families face in accessing cleft surgery and care. To improve access to cleft care, Operation Smile in Guatemala opened a new care centre in Petén in February 2022.
This new care centre brings exceptional comprehensive cleft care and surgeries closer to patients living in the country’s northern region and neighbouring countries. It will strengthen future surgical programs in the regional hospital of San Benito in Petén and enhance our partnerships with local municipalities and medical authorities throughout the region to help raise awareness about cleft conditions.
The centre has already served as a beacon of hope and care for Jonathan, whose family travelled from Belize to Petén to ensure he received free and safe cleft care. Jonathan received consultations in five medical specialties – pediatrics, nutrition, dental, genetics, and psychosocial care. He was scheduled for his first cleft surgery a month before his first birthday. “Operation Smile in Guatemala gave me the security and peace of mind I needed. When we arrived at the clinic in Guatemala, they answered all the questions I had, and they have always been attentive to my son,” Jonathan’s dad, Jeremy, shared.