Coordinating Patient Care Local Program Operations

Smiles happen because of your support of local programs and operations in the 35 countries where we work. As a global medical charity, Operation Smile makes significant investments in each of them. Many have local Operation Smile offices that coordinate local surgical programs and the provision of cleft care for patients.

Investing in local programs and operations is the best way to provide cleft care where health care systems are under-resourced. Local volunteers and staff are closest to our patients, know their needs, establish bonds and relationships with patients and their families, and understand how to work best with local hospitals to arrange cleft surgeries.

In some countries, like Honduras and Nicaragua, Operation Smile maintains national registries of cleft patients waiting for surgery. These registries help with “patient management” – the flow of patients into hospitals for care and treatment. The registries also help local and national health authorities understand the current and future needs for surgery.

Registries also help local Operation Smile offices keep track of patients, often from infancy, so appropriate comprehensive care (like nutrition programs, speech therapy, and dentistry) can be offered and provided before and after surgery. With support from Operation Smile Canada, Operation Smile Honduras is investing in a new patient registry system to help meet their current and future patient management needs.

Local Programs and Operations Supported by Operation Smile Canada (# Countries)

The statistics below reflect the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our programs, beginning in March 2020 (FY20). For the health and safety of our patients, many programs were suspended well into 2021 (FY21), and/or continue at reduced capacity.

FY19 4
FY20 10
FY21 9

Patient screening and assessments are also part of providing cleft surgery and care. Screening allows us to identify the potential pool of patients who are candidates for surgery, either now or in the future. It also allows for patients who require pre-surgical care, like underweight or malnourished infants, to be identified.

Patient health assessments ensure patients are healthy enough for surgery. Post-surgery follow-ups help patients to receive appropriate care, like dentistry, so they reap the most benefit from their surgery.

In Colombia, two surgical programs were planned in the cities of Tame and Barranquilla in April 2021. Screening days were conducted in both locations, but surgeries were unfortunately postponed due to a third wave of COVID-19 in Colombia.

Staff and volunteers are maintaining contact with screened patients, providing support, care and encouragement while children wait for their surgery. Several children who were screened in Tame were brought to Bogotá in June 2021 for their surgery.

Coordinating care, patient management, health assessment and screening are all parts of comprehensive cleft care that lead to life-changing surgery and new smiles for children.

Countries Supported by Operation Smile Canada

Bolivia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, and Paraguay