From October 12-16, Smile Train, the Brazilian Society of Plastic Surgery (SBCP), and Fundação IDEAH united in a major campaign for cleft lip and palate patients. Top Brazilian plastic surgeons from SBCP visited ten Smile Train partner hospitals across the country to provide local doctors with additional training. The five-day campaign resulted in 178 children receiving free top quality cleft surgeries.
Smile Train provides a free cleft repair surgery to a child every five minutes, every day of the year. Since its founding in 1999, the organization has provided more than one million cleft surgeries across the world.
The primary goal of Brazil’s Cleft Week was to raise awareness of clefts and reduce the backlog of those living with unrepaired clefts throughout Brazil. Mariane Goes, Program Manager, Smile Train, South America, said, “I was so pleased to see how well our local partners, professors and medical residents worked together. This national campaign is a major step forward for public awareness about cleft lip and palate in Brazil and Smile Train’s efforts in the region."
Smile Train’s CEO Susannah Schaefer traveled to Brazil to support the campaign, paying a visit to the Hospital Nossa Senhora do Loreto where Smile Train’s partner Saúde Criança Ilha is based in Rio de Janeiro. The hospital’s multi-disciplinary cleft team, CEFIL, is comprised of plastic and oral surgeons, nurses, speech language pathologists and social workers, comes together to evaluate each patient’s case and map out a comprehensive roadmap for treatment.
“I was thrilled to witness Hospital Nossa Senhora do Loreto’s holistic approach to cleft care and treatment first-hand,” said Schaefer. “Effective cleft treatment, like so many global health interventions, requires multiple perspectives and areas of expertise working together to ensure patients receive the highest-quality care every step of the way. We look forward to replicating this model at our other partner hospitals across the world.”
Another goal of the campaign was to teach the newest cleft surgery methods to Brazil’s medical residents. “The best classroom to teach a surgeon is an operating room. With this initiative, SBCP and Smile Train gained the interest of medical residents with a fascinating learning experience," says Dr. Henrique Cintra, a SBCP surgeon. Top residents from across the country participated in the campaign by observing surgeries and coordinating with patient’s families.
“Our ‘teach a man to fish’ training model empowers top surgeons in Brazil to sustainably pass along their techniques and expertise to promising trainees, enabling us to maximize our impact in Brazil and globally today and tomorrow,” said Schaefer.
Every year, Smile Train provides nearly 3,500 free cleft lip and palate surgeries in Brazil, but with an estimated 4,300 babies born with clefts each year in the country, there´s still much to be done. Since Smile Train’s inception, more than 20,000 life-changing cleft surgeries have been performed by local medical partners across Brazil.
After cleft week was over and 178 children had received their free cleft surgeries, Dr. Luciano, Vice President of SBCP reflected. “When planning this partnership, we knew that we had an enormous responsibility. We worked hard and we’re sure of success because we helped so many good people. I thank all of our colleagues who made this campaign a success and elevated the name of plastic surgeons in Brazil."
“We would like to welcome SBCP to our Smile Train family. We are so excited to continue the work we accomplished this week and spread even more smiles around Brazil. The most exciting thing is that SBCP surgeons have all already asked to participate again next year and every year after that,” said Goes.
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