ACTIVE SINCE: 2018-2022

Smile Train

A five-year partnership aimed at transforming the lives of children with clefts in the developing world.
Global NGOs 1

GSK Consumer Healthcare, one of the world’s leading providers in specialist oral health, has established a five-year partnership with Smile Train, an international children’s charity, aimed at transforming the lives of children with clefts in the developing world.

Cleft lip and palate is a birth defect, resulting in a split in the upper lip and/or roof of the mouth (palate). It is one of the most common facial birth defects, affecting around on in every 700 babies. If left untreated, children will often struggle to eat, breathe and speak properly, leaving them isolated from communities and left with on-going health issues. In many developing countries, clefts are the leading birth defect, and it is estimated more than 200,000 children are born with a cleft every year. In the developed world it is almost entirely corrected within first 6 months of life, meaning it has relatively low visibility and awareness.

There are four main areas that the partnership supports:

  1. Surgeries: Smile Train provides funding for equipment and financial aid, so their medical partners can provide free cleft surgery.
  2. Outreach: the partnership will enable Smile Train partner hospitals to run outreach campaigns with the specific aim of identifying patients in remote and difficult to reach geographies and enable access to life changing cleft surgery for children and their families.
  3. Comprehensive care: Smile Train provides 100% free comprehensive care package for cleft patients. This care package can range from a nutritional programme to ensure the child is physically fit for surgery (since many cleft patients will be malnourished) to orthodontic care and speech therapy post-surgery.
  4. Training local health professionals: Smile Train works with a sustainable model to expand the network of skilled and empowered local medical practitioners by providing high quality local training programmes.

Local doctors receive additional training and education from Smile Train and then carry out surgeries utilising local facilities in the heart of their local communities.

This five-year global partnership with Smile Train will help provide thousands more surgeries for children with clefts and help increase medical training in local communities. It will also help increase awareness about cleft among both consumers and experts, and provide vital support in oral health and hygiene for patients as part of the overall care pathway. Together both organisations are united in a shared vision and commitment to help transform more children’s lives, one smile at a time.

Results and milestones

In the first year of the partnership, GSK Consumer Healthcare has raised $90,000, which will fund 360 surgeries to help more children living with clefts lead full and productive lives, achieving their own potential and contributing to their community.

A recent independent study quantifies the economic value of global cleft repair surgery, using patient data from Smile Train. For every $250 invested in a single cleft repair, as much as $42,000 is put back into the local economy as former cleft patients go on to contribute to economic productivity and lead full, productive lives in their communities.

Geographic Reach
  • Global Commitment
Disease Area
Target Population
  • Children
Partner organizations
Global NGOs

Smile Train offers free, life-changing surgery and comprehensive cleft care to children with cleft lip and/or palate in 85 countries.

Additional resources