26th June 2024 New Delhi, Delhi, India   Smile Train, the world’s largest cleft-focused NGO, released an in-depth assessment report today showcasing the transformative impact of Smile Train’s cleft care interventions across the country in a twenty-year period. Compiling data collected by consulting firm KPMG. The report deployed three research methodologies to get a holistic view of the social impact of Smile Train’s programs supporting cleft care over two decades. The report also highlights the USD 16 Billion impact created in India through Smile Train’s investment in cleft treatment since 2000.

Smile Train

Since 2000, Smile Train has supported more than Seven Lakh cleft surgeries across India. The key findings from the study reinforce that Smile Train’s program in India is aligned with global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and national priorities. It demonstrates the positive impact of Smile Train’s support in improving access to cleft treatment, enhancing hospital infrastructure, and positively influencing patients’ quality of life. All respondents indicated that Smile Train India’s support was crucial in addressing the challenges faced by individuals with clefts and their families.

  • 70% of parents stated that they lacked financial resources to access cleft treatment without a Smile Train’s support.
  • 100% of parents stated that the Smile Train helped reduce financial burden and improved access to cleft treatment.
  • 100% of parents acknowledged that information on cleft and its treatment helped them understand their child’s condition.
  • Awareness created by Smile Train helped parents change the perception of their family members towards cleft.
  • Parents’ stress and tension reduced considerably after interacting with qualified doctors who treated their children.
  • 79% of parents reported that cleft treatment received via smile train has greatly benefited their child.
  • 60% of individuals with clefts had difficulty eating certain foods and drinking liquids before cleft surgery.
  • After treatment, 83% of individuals with clefts reported no difficulty in facial functions like eating and drinking.
  • 77.6% partner doctors agreed that the number of individuals seeking cleft treatment increased after support provided by Smile Train.
  • 96% doctors interviewed highlighted effective outreach created by Smile Train India to cater to individuals with clefts belonging to remote areas.
  • 100% doctors agreed that the hospital staff is adequate in numbers to treat the increased number of individuals with clefts. The doctors interviewed on average conduct 278 cleft surgeries in a year.
  • 82% of doctors surveyed confirmed that they have received training from Smile Train India. On average, the doctors spent 20-25 days a year in training related to cleft treatment. This helped to enhance their knowledge and expertise in cleft treatment.

Susannah Schaefer, Executive Vice Chair, President & CEO of Smile Train, stated, “As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of Smile Train’s founding as a global nonprofit, I want to take a moment to reflect on two-and-a-half decades of remarkable achievements. Since inception, our goal has always been to provide comprehensive and sustainable cleft care. To commemorate this milestone, we commissioned two significant studies: an Economic Impact Study to analyze our work’s impact on the global economy, and the India-specific Quality of Life and Impact Report to understand how our support has impacted the lives of individuals with clefts and their families. The findings underscore the importance of our work and the need to continue expanding our reach to underserved communities as well as create a sustainable cleft infrastructure with critical partnerships and training.”

Speaking at the occasion, Mamta Carroll, Senior Vice President, and Regional Director – Asia, Smile Train said, “We are immensely proud to present Smile Train India’s “Quality of Life and Impact Report,” which encapsulates 20 years of our transformative work and its profound impact on the lives of countless individuals, including the medical community. This report marks a significant milestone in our unwavering commitment to equitable cleft care across India. The findings highlight Smile Train’s pivotal role in bridging gaps in cleft care, from improving medical infrastructure to supporting underserved communities.”

Cleft is a gap in the upper lip and/or the roof of the mouth (palate) and is a facial birth difference that affects one in 700 babies. An untreated cleft condition not only leads to facial differences in appearance, but health challenges related to eating, breathing, hearing, and speaking. Many children with clefts get bullied in schools and colleges and end up living in isolation.