Smile Train, the world’s largest cleft organization, has announced the worldwide launch of its Cleft Leadership Centers (CLCs). The CLCs are among its most significant initiatives to improve global health equity and promote access to safe, quality, and free comprehensive cleft care across continents.
In India, the Cleft Leadership Center is being launched at Bhagwan Mahaveer Jain Hospital in Bangalore and will be headed by Dr Krishnamurthy Bonanthaya, Maxillofacial Surgeon and Project Director, Smile Train. The CLC will serve as a regional hub for cleft treatment and training, providing best-in-class comprehensive care. This includes a holistic, team-centered model that encompasses surgery, speech therapy, nutritional support, orthodontics, dental and ENT Care, counselling, and psychosocial support.
“The impact of CLCs will extend far beyond cleft care. They will strengthen health systems throughout these countries and regions,” said Smile Train President & CEO Susannah Schaefer. “They are one of the many ways that Smile Train, our global Medical Advisory Board, local Medical Advisory Councils, and our partners are leading the way for sustainable improvements to global health systems to create a better standard of care and healthier, happier future everywhere we work.”
Commencing with centers in India, Chile, Brazil, Mexico, Ghana, Vietnam, and the Philippines, the CLCs will expand to other regions. Over the next five years, Smile Train anticipates introducing 10 additional CLCs in low and middle-income countries, expanding its sustainable model of empowering local trained medical professionals to save the lives of individuals with clefts while building stronger, more resilient surgical systems internationally. An estimated five billion people around the globe, including many with clefts, do not have access to safe, affordable surgery and anesthesia in their own communities.
“Equipped with the latest technology and staffed with some of the best-trained medical professionals, CLCs will be a model for other cleft centers to ensure the highest standard of holistic cleft care is available for all. The CLC truly embodies our ethos of supporting children with clefts from birth to adulthood and ensuring that every child in need has access to the cleft care they deserve,” highlighted Mamta Carroll, Smile Train’s Senior Vice President & Regional Director for Asia.
“The aim is to ensure that the CLCs have an interdisciplinary team to provide full spectrum of high-quality, safe and free cleft care which is critical to support patients. The CLCs will also help patients access all aspects of comprehensive cleft care, including surgery, speech services, nutritional support, orthodontics and counselling. I’m proud to be a part of an organization that is committed to consistently improving the access and caliber of cleft care for children across the world,” said Dr. Krishnamurthy Bonanthaya, Maxillofacial Surgeon and Smile Train Project Director at Bhagwan Mahaveer Jain Hospital, Bangalore.
Smile Train’s sustainable model empowers local medical professionals with training, funding, and resources to provide free cleft surgery and comprehensive cleft care to children globally. For more than 20 years, Smile Train has supported safe and quality cleft care for more than 1.5 million children globally, including 500K+ children in India.