Nonprofit Addresses Well being Fairness by Offering Safer Surgical procedures


By Susannah Schaefer, govt vice chair, president, and chief govt officer of Smile Prepare


As the worldwide well being care neighborhood considers easy methods to create well being care techniques that work for everybody – together with essentially the most susceptible amongst us – a subject that sparks widespread dialog is well being fairness. Well being fairness means everybody having the chance to realize their full well being potential, and particularly guaranteeing that no particular person’s social circumstances forestall them from this.

Most lately, we’ve sadly seen by way of the continued COVID-19 pandemic how social inequities can create a disproportionate impression on varied populations because of the uneven distribution of assets. Even within the U.S., a latest examine discovered that “your ZIP code can carry extra weight in your potential well being outcomes than your genetic code, attributable to disparities amongst low- and high-income populations, together with entry to care.”


Smile Prepare, a cleft-focused nonprofit, has, for greater than 20 years, centered on bettering well being fairness world wide by providing these born with cleft lip and palate entry to protected, high quality cleft therapy and complete care in additional than 85 nations. We advance a sustainable resolution and scalable international well being mannequin for cleft therapy, drastically bettering kids’s lives, together with their potential to eat, breathe, communicate, and in the end thrive. Reasonably than flying medical doctors into low-resource areas to carry out cleft surgical procedures, we offer funding and infrastructure so our medical companions are capable of present high quality surgical procedure, dental care, speech remedy and extra, which permits for follow-up care, and strengthens native well being techniques.

We consider that all of us have a voice on this dialog, and a task we are able to play. We see firsthand day-after-day the ability of dedicating the correct assets to creating entry to raised well being care extra equitable globally. By means of our work, we’ve confirmed that know-how and forging like-minded partnerships are impactful methods to advance well being fairness, with outcomes that may encourage extra innovation and motion from our international communities.

Know-how is a key issue with limitless potential to advance well being fairness, construct well being care capability, and enhance outcomes. For instance, across the globe, lack of entry to ongoing surgical coaching threatens the standard of surgical outcomes and the provision of life-saving care. These challenges have solely grown in the course of the pandemic as conventional coaching and care turned practically unattainable in lots of areas. Smile Prepare, along with its Medical Advisory Board, has devoted analysis to exploring methods to enhance accessible digital coaching choices and supply what is actually “essentially the most fashionable textbook accessible” through digital instruments equivalent to our Digital Surgical procedure Simulator and different offline assets totally free to surgeons in low-resource nations worldwide. 

Telemedicine may also carry long-term well being fairness enhancements as suppliers can attain extra individuals, particularly in distant areas or the place sufferers keep away from care attributable to fears of stigma. In the course of the pandemic, even whereas some surgical procedures had been on maintain, Smile Prepare’s well being companions had been capable of present 1000’s of hours of vital care, together with speech remedy and dietary assist through telemedicine.

An estimated two-thirds of the world’s kids lack entry to protected surgical care. In 2020, Smile Prepare additionally partnered with Youngsters Working Room to produce new state-of-the-art working rooms throughout Africa, and has  supplied important, life-saving surgical care to 1000’s of youngsters throughout the first 12 months. By means of this highly effective partnership, we’ve been capable of immediately tackle the vital significance of offering safer surgical procedure to additional scale back well being disparities.

Whereas social determinants of well being – outlined by the World Well being Group as “the situations wherein persons are born, develop, stay, work and age” – immediately affect many people’ well being outcomes, we at Smile Prepare know we are able to all work collectively towards making the world a more healthy, happier, and extra equitable place.

Susannah (Susie) Schaefer is govt vice chair, president, and chief govt officer (CEO) of Smile Prepare, the world’s largest cleft-focused group with a sustainable and native mannequin of supporting surgical procedure and different types of complete cleft care.  In her function as president and CEO, she oversees Smile Prepare’s imaginative and prescient to increase entry to well being care and enhance native cleft care capability in nations the place Smile Prepare has lively applications. 

This text is a part of WebMD/Medscape’s contributor program, which lets individuals and organizations outdoors of WebMD/Medscape submit articles for consideration on our websites. Have an thought for a submission?  Electronic mail us at [email protected]

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