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Smile Train Joins Kenyan and Philippines Ministries of Health and Global Surgery Stakeholders at WHA Side Event to Accelerate Progress Towards Surgical Equity in UHC

New York – WEBWIRE

On May 23rd, the Kenyan and Philippines Ministries of Health, in partnership with Smile Train, KidsOR, the Henry Family Advised Fund, COSECSA, the G4 Alliance, and West African College of Surgeons, hosted a WHA side event to galvanize action towards the integration of surgical care as a necessary component of Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

For more than 5 billion people around the world, safe, affordable, and timely surgical and anesthesia care remains out of reach. This health crisis, which represents one of the worst inequities in health, perpetuates legacies of poverty, gender inequality, and lack of education for millions of families around the world. The burden of Neglected Surgical Diseases (NSDs), including untreated cleft lip and palate and clubfoot, obstetric fistula, cataracts, hernia, and neglected trauma such as fractures and burns, falls disproportionately upon those living in low- and middle- income countries—particularly women and children. The potential for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) to ensure surgical equity through essential interventions has created an opportunity to redefine global health.

“The Ministry of Health supports the efforts of Private Public Partnership and appreciates the efforts of the partners down the journey towards achievement of Universal Health Care.” said the Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry of Health of Kenya Hon. Sicily Kariuki.  “…I take this opportunity to request all countries gathered here today and those you will reach out to later to commit towards a Global Partnership for Actions to Prevent and Eliminate Neglected Surgical Diseases.”

Kenya’s commitment was seconded by the Philippines, represented by Dr. Mario C. Villaverde, Undersecretary of Health of the Health Policy Systems Development, Department of Health of the Philippines. “We take this opportunity to join hands with our brothers and sisters in Kenya and Mexico and with joint focus, we have embarked on a journey of hope – that of eradicating Neglected Surgical Diseases.”

Additional statements of support for access to essential surgery and anesthesia care were made by representatives from Taiwan and The Gambia. They were joined by civil society representatives including the Global Clubfoot Initiative, Global Initiative for Children’s Surgery (GICS), COSECSA, International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), UNFPA, and Smile Train.

“Smile Train is committed to significant future investments in health systems … to ensure every child, no matter where they are born or where they live, has access to safe, timely, comprehensive treatment for cleft lip and palate,” said Erin Stieber, Senior Vice-President of Programs at Smile Train. “And in doing so, raising the standard of care available to all surgical patients.”

For more information about Smile Train’s global efforts and to make a donation, please visit Supporting Smile Train gives a child access to a full range of treatment services they would otherwise never receive and ultimately the opportunity for a better life. 


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

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