What We Do

Operation Smile Malawi is a medical charity that provides free surgeries to children and adults born with cleft lip and cleft palate. Cleft is a birth defect where a child is born with a slit on the lip or a hole in the roof of the mouth (the palate). Children with this birth defect may face numerous life challenges including difficulties in eating, drinking, speaking and hearing. Children with cleft also face painful stigma and discrimination.

When We Started

Since it was founded in 2012, Operation Smile Malawi has provided life-changing surgery to more than 1,700 people across the country. In addition, we provide comprehensive cleft care through related non-surgical services such as dentistry, speech therapy and psychosocial care. This is made possible through a network of over 100 medical and non-medical volunteers who provide their professional skills free of charge. We also provide trainings to medical professionals in various specialties as a way of ensuring growth of in-country capacity in medical care.

The majority of these surgeries have been provided through our surgical program model. Operation Smile Malawi initially conducted one mission a year, but with growing number of patients, this grew to three a year by 2017. Subsequently, our partnership with hospitals grew from strength to strength. Together we collaborated and, in 2019, started providing surgeries on an on-going basis under a program named patient sequencing. The program started at Mercy James Pediatric Center at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre and later Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe. 

Operation Smile Malawi has evolved over the years from providing surgical care during missions to the on-going provision of comprehensive care through the following programs: 

  • Surgical Delivery 
  • Nutrition Programs 
  • Cleft Feeding Programs 
  • Speech and Audiology  
  • Psychosocial Support 
  • Education and Training 
  • Patient Outreach/ Awareness Programs 
  • Partnerships 
  • Fundraising 
  • Student Programs 
  • Volunteer Programs  

Who we work with

Operation Smile works hand in hand with partner institutions. These include government ministries and departments including the Ministry of Health hospitals at all levels of care, corporate partners, other NGOs and individual well-wishers.  The organisation conducts all of its businesses through medical and non-medical volunteers. Our medical volunteers work in various government and private hospitals across the country while non-medical volunteers come from all walks of life.

A child’s cleft lip or cleft palate can be repaired for as little as 45 minutes. All of our supporters give renewed hope to children and families around the world.