Alliance for Smiles organizes and sends surgical teams to sites for two week missions. A surgical team is comprised of approximately 15 medical volunteers, supported by approximately 5 non-medical volunteers. During a mission 70 to 100 under-served children receive surgery for cleft lip & palate anomalies. The AfS team works side-by-side with local medical practitioners to exchange ideas on proper medical techniques and procedures, as well as to provide follow-up care.
AfS provides care to all patients, regardless of sex, age, economic status, educational background, race, color, ancestry, national origin, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity or marital status.
Cleft Treatment Centers
Alliance for Smiles also helps to establish and maintain permanent centers to provide follow-up treatment and continuing care to children who have received surgery. The objectives and activities of the centers include dental treatment, speech therapy, parental education and psychological counseling.
Missions & Treatment Center Locations
About the Treatment Centers
Traditional international efforts to repair cleft lips and palates have consisted of small teams that perform surgical procedures to correct defects. However, the initial surgery only addresses one part of the problem. Cleft patients require ongoing treatment in the disciplines of dentistry, orthodontia, speech therapy and sometimes psychological counseling.
Time and funding constraints typically make it impossible to address those needs. Even if information, expertise and treatment were available, it would pose an impossible financial burden to the families of our target population, whose budgets are already strained by their basic daily needs for food and shelter.
To respond to the immediate need, Alliance for Smiles (AfS) conducts two week surgical missions. We also provide advanced training for local health care providers who are dedicated to the treatment of under-served cleft lip and palate patients.
We established permanent treatment centers where patients can receive follow-up and ongoing care, utilizing the same treatment protocols used in the United States.
The first treatment center was dedicated in Jiujiang China in April of 2007, and the second was established in November of 2009 in Wenzhou. The third treatment center was opened in Harbin in 2011. The fourth and fifth were both established in the Guizhou Province of China: Zunyi in 2013 and Guiyang in 2014. In 2017 we established our first treatment center outside of China, in Lagos, Nigeria at LASUTH Hospital.
Surgeons, speech pathologists, dentists, orthodontists, and social workers are each core service providers to the programs. Alliance for Smiles will continue to expand the treatment center concept by developing hospitals in new areas, which means that there is a very definite sustainability factor. With continued support from generous individuals, foundations, businesses, and groups such as Rotary International, AfS looks forward to expanding and realizing its dream of establishing comprehensive treatment for cleft children in developing countries all over the world.