This initiative will develop cost-effective technical innovations, invest in critical education and training for health workers, and carry out related research — all essential components of safe surgical and anesthesia care. Ultimately, the partnership will reach more than 1,100 hospitals in 70 countries, elevating the standard of care for pediatric surgical patients around the globe.
“With a shared dedication to supporting safe, high-quality surgery and anesthesia, and a shared passion for scaling innovative technologies that can transform surgical care, Smile Train and Lifebox are now expanding on our history of fruitful collaborations,” Susannah Schaefer, Smile Train president and CEO, said. “As a nonprofit whose goal is to empower local medical professionals to treat patients with clefts in their own communities, we are thrilled to be working with Lifebox to bring additional training, education and other critical resources to our global network of partners.”
Dr. Atul Gawande, a surgeon, public-health researcher, co-founder and chair of Lifebox, and member of the Biden-Harris Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board, will serve as the Initiative’s global ambassador. Dr. Gawande will lend his public health and global surgery expertise to support the strategy, vision and direction of the partnership.
“As a surgeon, I’ve seen the impact that high-quality training, resources and equipment can have in the operating room for providers and patients alike,” Dr. Gawande said. “I am honored to support the “Safe Surgery and Anesthesia Initiative” to bring better, safer care to cleft patients — strengthening surgical systems around the world. It will change lives. It will save lives.”
Together, Smile Train and Lifebox have jointly distributed more than 2,000 pulse oximeters globally. A pulse oximeter is critical for safe surgery and plays a vital role in the triage and care of COVID-19 patients. Many hospitals urgently need more of these life-saving devices. The first phase of the partnership, launching this month, will see the distribution of 500 additional pulse oximeters across Africa and other regions, many still responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the next three years, Smile Train and Lifebox will work to identify and explore the development of more affordable, accessible solutions vital to ensuring safer surgery and anesthesia care.
“We look forward to this new initiative between Smile Train and Lifebox, focusing on local needs and scalable solutions to improve pediatric surgical and anesthesia care for thousands of children globally,” Professor Miliard Derbew, pediatric surgeon, Lifebox board member and CEO of King Faisal Hospital, Rwanda, said.
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 over 20 years, Smile Train has supported safe and quality cleft care for more than 1.5 million children and will continue to do so until every child in need with a cleft has access to the care they deserve.