Smile Train Urges Patients with Clefts to Receive Free Cleft Treatment


Bangui, Central African Republic-…. Smile Train, the world’s largest cleft organization, has today joined the Central African Republic in commemorating Independence Day with a Canoe Race to raise awareness about clefts and encourage those in need of cleft treatment to seek free, safe and timely surgery within the country.

The exciting event, which brought together participants from across three regions along the Oubangui River (Ombella Poko, Bimbo and Bangui), was graced by His Excellency the President of the Republic Pr Faustin Archange TOUADERA. The Minister of Public Health and Population Dr Pierre Somsé underscored the government’s dedication towards enhancing public health, welcoming the partnership with Smile Train to support safe cleft surgery within the community.

“As we continue to provide the best healthcare, we welcome the partnership with Smile Train to support free, safe and timely cleft surgery to those who need it most. We, therefore, urge more patients to come forward to receive the much-needed care,” said Dr Somsé.

Smile Train Program Director West and Central Africa Dr Nicole Bouba added that since starting its programs in CAR in 2017, Smile Train has provided life-changing smiles to 368 beneficiaries. “Cleft is a birth difference in which the child experiences difficulty in breathing, eating and speaking. Children who grow up with untreated clefts are often isolated and bullied, unable to socialize and make friends. An estimated 3000 children are born with clefts in CAR every year,” noted Dr Bouba.

There remains a huge backlog of patients who are isolated and stigmatized. Dr Bouba added: “We still have a backlog of patients who are yet to receive cleft surgery. We hope that through this event, we will be able to create more awareness that through our partner Complexe Hospitalier et Universitaire Pédiatrique de Bangui (CHUPB), we continue to provide free, safe and timely cleft surgery all year round. No child should live with an untreated cleft. Help us find them.”

The thrilling canoe race, in which 25 canoes competed, attracted attendees from more than 20 villages across CAR.

Smile Train has active cleft care programs in 42 countries across Africa with more than 245 partners and over 255 partner hospitals across the continent. Through strategic partnerships at the local and international levels, Smile Train dedicates itself towards providing funding towards quality healthcare capacity building and advocacy to increase access to safer surgeries and cleft care in low- and middle-income countries.

Among the strategic investments in education and training include partnerships with Scottish Charity KidsOR, the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) and the West African College of Surgeons (WACS). American Heart Association, the World Federation Of Societies of Anaesthesiologists, College of Anaesthesiologists for East Central and Southern Africa and Lifebox to provide training and scholarships in various categories.

Smile Train has recently broken ground in Ghana for Africa’s first Cleft Leadership Centre to build the capacity of cleft professionals to dispense global standards of care at the local level.


About Smile Train

Smile Train empowers local medical professionals with training, funding, and resources to provide children with free cleft surgery and comprehensive cleft care 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 has both an immediate and long-term impact, please visit