Smile Train and Operation Smile are launching Rwanda Smiles, an initiative to create a cleft-free Rwanda.
The joint effort is in collaboration with the government of Rwanda to create the first-ever cleft-free country in Africa.
To create a cleft-free Rwanda, the medical infrastructure of the country will be enhanced so that children born with clefts in the future will have access to ongoing cleft care, the organizers noted.
Through Rwanda Smiles, Smile Train and Operation Smile will help build this infrastructure by establishing medical training programs for Rwandan medical professionals to further develop their skill levels in the areas of surgery, anesthesia, and nursing. Both organizations will engage their networks of international medical professionals to provide this specialized training for Rwandan medical teams.
Each year, an estimated 250 to 300 babies are born with clefts in Rwanda, and approximately 4,000 children and adults in the country have a cleft. Rwandans affected with these birth defects often can't eat or speak properly, and are often shunned and ostracized from their communities.
Operation Smile and Smile Train are working closely with the Rwandan Ministry of Health to scale up their efforts.