Smile Train and Nigeria Ministry of Health Launch National Healthcare Workers Capacity Building Program


5th May 2021… Abuja, Nigeria…Smile Train, a global cleft charity organization in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health, Nigeria, today commissioned their partnership in the implementation of the  National Surgical, Obstetrics, Anaesthesia and Nursing Plan (NSOANP), to strengthen the healthcare system in the country. They also launched a cleft e-registry platform to map out patients with cleft and link them to quality care.

Smile Train’s scalable and sustainable model of investing in training and resources to treat cleft has a proven positive impact on the quality of care provided at local communities. The Memorandum of Understanding which was signed in December 2020 followed progressive engagement in which Smile Train participated at the NSOANP Stakeholders Implementation meeting in Abuja in February 2020.

Speaking while presenting the Federal Minister for Health with a Smile Maker plaque, Smile Train Program Director for West and Central Africa Mrs. Nkeiruka Obi noted that the NSOANP aims at ensuring that the healthcare workers in the country provide high quality care in their communities. She added that there was a huge backlog of cleft patients living in isolation and being stigmatized, yet when treated have great potential to serve the country.

“We need to equip our medical professionals with basic life-saving skills that meet the needs of underserved communities. Smile Train’s model of teaching a man to fish looks at holistic care of patients. Similarly, the establishment of E-Registry for Clefts and Surgical Surveillance and Referral System gives us reliable data to promote local research aimed at developing evidence-based policies surrounding clefts and surgical care,” noted Mrs. Obi.

On his part, the Honorable Minister for Health Dr. Osagie Ehanire added that the partnership with Smile Train has a ripple effect on the quality of healthcare services.

“Smile Train scalable sustainable approach to cleft care has demonstrated goodwill in developing and strengthening the expertise of our healthcare providers, having transformed the lives of more than 27,000 cleft patients over the last decade,” noted Dr. Ehanire.

On his part co-Chairperson for the NSOANP, Prof. Emmanuel Ameh, underscored the need for a multi-faceted approach, bringing policymakers, healthcare providers and development partners,  to the table in ensuring equitable access to quality healthcare, with financial risk protection.

“The NSOANP framework brings together healthcare providers in diverse fields, with government support to lay a strong foundation for policy development, with greater emphasis in scaling healthcare to reach the last mile patient. Strengthening surgical care has the unique advantage of strengthening the entire healthcare system in the country. The presence of government restores confidence to being more patient-centric,” noted Prof. Ameh.  

According to the Global Initiative for Children’s Surgery, two-thirds of the world’s children lack access to timely, safe, and affordable surgical care – this is an estimated 1.7 billion children. Treatment of cleft is free, and transformation is immediate, so the patient can eat, breathe, speak, and ultimately thrive. To address this need, Smile Train recently committed to upgrading Armed Forces Specialist Hospital, Kano, Lagos University Teaching Hospital  and National Orthopaedic Hospital Enugu by providing a Children’s Operating Room (KidsOR) for each of these hospitals.

Smile Train has been actively supporting programs in Africa since 2002. In that time, the organization has developed local partnerships with more than 245 partner hospitals and 255+ medical partners in 40 countries throughout Africa to provide free cleft treatment. To date, Smile Train’s local medical partners have provided more than 120,000 life-changing cleft surgeries across Africa.



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 For more information about Smile Train’s work in Africa, please contact [email protected].


Emily Manjeru
PR & Communications Manager, Africa
+254 724 926 269
[email protected]