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Kids Operating Room and Smile Train Announce Partnership

Press release

For Immediate Release

New York – July 15, 2020 –

Smile Train, the world's largest cleft charity, today announced a partnership with Scottish charity, Kids Operating Room (KidsOR), to supply an initial 20 paediatric operating rooms across Africa, providing essential, life-saving surgical care to more than 12,000 children by the end of 2021. 

The two organizations share a long-standing commitment to increasing access to paediatric surgical and anaesthesia care through a sustainable and empowering model. For more than 20 years, Smile Train has empowered local medical professionals around the globe to provide safe, high-quality cleft surgery and on-going cleft care, supporting more than 1.5 million surgeries for some of the world’s most vulnerable children.

Similarly, KidsOR, which formally launched in 2018 after years of collaboration around safe surgery, works to provide dedicated, specialist facilities and equipment for paediatric surgery in low-resource settings, supporting local doctors through training and infrastructure development. The organization has committed to installing 120 paediatric operating rooms across Africa by 2030. 

The first new facility installed under the partnership will be at the Teaching Hospital in Treichville, Ivory Coast, West Africa. Treichville Hospital serves a population of five million people and provides training for surgeons from many other countries in Africa – but as with so many hospitals throughout the continent, there is no dedicated operating room for children in their hospital.

“Often in our hospital, we do not have the right equipment to perform paediatric surgery safely. Especially with small children and babies, we cannot use the large surgical instrument we have available. This means that children with easily treatable surgical conditions, like cleft lip and palate, do not always receive proper, life-saving care when they need it the most,” said Professor Bankole Sanni Rouma, a paediatric surgeon at the Teaching Hospital of Treichville. “The new operating room for children’s surgery will make a big difference to my hospital, and the hundreds of children we can now help, as it will allow surgeons to enhance their skills in caring for children and provide the proper equipment for treatment.”

With 20 operating rooms already planned for the first year of the partnership, the long-term collaboration will ultimately result in more than 30 paediatric operating rooms provided across countries in Africa over the next five years.

“We are extremely proud to work with Smile Train on this project. Our strategies for the development of care in Africa are closely aligned and by collaborating we can maximize our combined impact, minimize administrative costs and prevent duplication of effort,” said KidsOR Chief Executive David Cunningham. “We are delighted to be able to work with them to ensure that more children have access to the care they need in a sustainable, locally delivered way.”

“Smile Train and KidsOR share a core set of values – sustainability, empowerment, local leadership, and a dedication to providing safe surgical and anaesthesia care for children,” said Smile Train President and Chief Executive Officer, Susannah Schaefer. “Through this partnership, we will be able to build that long-term capacity and make a difference in the lives of so many people affected by treatable surgical conditions like cleft.”

About Smile Train

Smile Train empowers local medical professionals with training, funding, and resources to provide free cleft surgery and comprehensive cleft care to children globally. We advance a sustainable solution and scalable global health model for cleft treatment, drastically improving children's lives, including their ability to eat, breathe, speak, and ultimately thrive. To learn more about how Smile Train's sustainable approach means donations have both an immediate and long-term impact, please visit

About Kids Operating Room

Kids Operating Room is a Scottish charity working globally to provide paediatric operating rooms in hospitals and safe equipment to surgeons. Kids Operating Room also funds training of surgeons and anaesthesia providers and works with National Ministries of Health to develop sustainable healthcare services. Working across Africa, Latin America and South East Asia, KidsOR has installed 25 operating rooms and provided over 24,000 children with access to emergency lifesaving and life-changing surgery in the last two years. Over two billion children lack access to safe surgery. Every year, more children die from not getting the surgery they need than from Malaria, HIV and TB combined.

Press Contacts:

Smile Train

Nijha Diggs, Senior Director, Public Relations



Karen Tas, Head of Communications

+44 07958 135 609

Kids Operating Room and Smile Train film

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