Preparing Children for Surgery Nutrition Programs

Nutritional support for our patients has always been an important part of the care provided by Operation Smile. It became critically important with the onset of the pandemic. Many infants with cleft lip and palate have trouble breastfeeding and gaining weight after birth. As a result, malnutrition and low weight are common reasons why a patient’s surgery is delayed.

This past year, usage of our nutrition programs grew exponentially, and so did their importance to our patients and their families when loss of family income also meant the inability to buy nutritious food.

Our nutrition programs are designed to contribute to our patients’ food and nutritional needs, with the goal of ensuring they are at a healthy weight to receive surgery. Depending on the country, the programs offer workshops on preparing nutritious food, good oral hygiene practices, and nutrition kits and cleft feeding bottles at the end of the consultations. Our teams also train community health volunteers, midwives, and health care workers in nutrition for infants and children with cleft conditions.

256 Patients Enrolled in Nutritional Programs
3,901 Patients Received Nutritional Consultations

Bolivia, Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic, and Ecuador Provide Nutritional Programming

Edward Orozco

Edward’s journey to a new smile reflects your impact and how nutrition programs save and change lives. Edward was only a month old and weighed just four pounds when he was diagnosed with severe malnutrition at our care centre in Nicaragua. His parents, Tania and Osmar, followed our pediatrician and nutritionist’s prescribed nutrition plan and regularly visited the centre for consultations.

Five months later, when Edward met the optimal weight and passed all health requirements, he received his cleft lip surgery in 2019. When it was safe this past year, he received his long-awaited cleft palate surgery.

Nutritional Consultations Provided

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 3,514
FY20 2,838
FY21 3,901