Smile Train’s Cleft Surgeries Boost African Economies By $2.5bn

Smile Train's Cleft Surgeries Boost African Economies By $2.5bn

World’s largest cleft-focused organization, Smile Train has unveiled a study detailing the economic impact of its cleft care programmes over the past 25 years.

The presentation of the report comes in the lead-up to Global Surgery Day and the 77th World Health Assembly.

The report, titled: “Smile Train at 25: $69 billion in Impact,” highlights the transformative effects of its work in more than 90 countries, with a remarkable $69 billion added to global economies.

In a statement issued to newsmen yesterday in Abuja, the vice president and regional director for Africa, Mrs. Nkeiruka Obi, emphasised the role of collaboration and innovation in achieving these outcomes.

She said that in Africa, Smile Train has significantly impacted local economies through 149,249 primary cleft surgeries, resulting in the prevention of 1,137,742 years lost to disability and generating an economic benefit exceeding $2.5 billion.

Over the past 25 years, Smile Train has sponsored over two million cleft surgeries, awarded more than $38 million in training grants, supported over 600,000 families, and partnered with over 6,000 surgeons and 4,000 healthcare centres.

Obi said since Smile Train commenced its African programmes in 2002, the ripple effects have been profound, with early beneficiaries now leading productive lives and contributing to their communities.

“Our earliest beneficiaries can now work and enjoy a better quality of life. The return on investment is promising for such a diverse and expansive region. Collaborations with like-minded organizations have enhanced our capacity to provide safe, timely, and quality care.

“We are leveraging data to support governments in developing surgical and anesthesia policies, ensuring continuous advancement in cleft care,” she said.

Also, the president and CEO Susannah Schaefer underscored the cost-effectiveness of integrating comprehensive cleft care into health systems.

“We are thrilled to share this study. $69 billion returned to local economies is no small feat, thanks to our dedicated worldwide team who prioritize sustainable and local models of care. It is time for the international medical community to recognize the cost-effectiveness of comprehensive cleft care, ensuring every child with a cleft has access to the care they deserve,” she said.

She reiterated that the report reveals that each $400 spent on cleft surgery generates up to $60,000 in economic benefit, a return on investment exceeding 150 times the initial cost.

Schaefer said the study follows up on a 2016 publication in the World Journal of Surgery, further quantifying the substantial societal and economic gains from Smile Train’s global cleft intervention programmes.

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