By Susannah Schaefer, govt vice chair, president, and chief govt officer of Smile Prepare


As the worldwide well being care group considers methods to create well being care methods that work for everybody – together with probably the most susceptible amongst us – a subject that sparks widespread dialog is well being fairness. Well being fairness means everybody having the chance to realize their full well being potential, and particularly making certain that no particular person’s social circumstances stop them from this.

Most just lately, we’ve sadly seen via the continued COVID-19 pandemic how social inequities can create a disproportionate impression on varied populations as a result of uneven distribution of sources. Even within the U.S., a latest examine discovered that “your ZIP code can carry extra weight in your potential well being outcomes than your genetic code, because of disparities amongst low- and high-income populations, together with entry to care.”


Smile Prepare, a cleft-focused nonprofit, has, for greater than 20 years, centered on bettering well being fairness all over the world by providing these born with cleft lip and palate entry to protected, high quality cleft therapy and complete care in additional than 85 nations. We advance a sustainable answer and scalable international well being mannequin for cleft therapy, drastically bettering youngsters’s lives, together with their means to eat, breathe, communicate, and in the end thrive. Quite than flying medical doctors into low-resource areas to carry out cleft surgical procedures, we offer funding and infrastructure so our medical companions are capable of present high quality surgical procedure, dental care, speech remedy and extra, which permits for follow-up care, and strengthens native well being methods.

We consider that all of us have a voice on this dialog, and a task we are able to play. We see firsthand daily the ability of dedicating the correct sources to creating entry to higher well being care extra equitable globally. Via our work, we’ve confirmed that expertise and forging like-minded partnerships are impactful methods to advance well being fairness, with outcomes that may encourage extra innovation and motion from our international communities.

Know-how is a key issue with limitless potential to advance well being fairness, construct well being care capability, and enhance outcomes. For instance, across the globe, lack of entry to ongoing surgical coaching threatens the standard of surgical outcomes and the supply of life-saving care. These challenges have solely grown through the pandemic as conventional coaching and care grew to become practically inconceivable in lots of areas. Smile Prepare, along with its Medical Advisory Board, has devoted analysis to exploring methods to enhance accessible digital coaching choices and supply what is actually “probably the most trendy textbook obtainable” by way of digital instruments comparable to our Digital Surgical procedure Simulator and different offline sources free of charge to surgeons in low-resource nations worldwide. 

Telemedicine can even convey long-term well being fairness enhancements as suppliers can attain extra individuals, particularly in distant areas or the place sufferers keep away from care because of fears of stigma. Throughout the pandemic, even whereas some surgical procedures had been on maintain, Smile Prepare’s well being companions had been capable of present 1000’s of hours of essential care, together with speech remedy and dietary help by way of telemedicine.

An estimated two-thirds of the world’s youngsters lack entry to protected surgical care. In 2020, Smile Prepare additionally partnered with Youngsters Working Room to produce new state-of-the-art working rooms throughout Africa, and has  supplied important, life-saving surgical care to 1000’s of youngsters inside the first 12 months. Via this highly effective partnership, we’ve been capable of immediately handle the essential significance of offering safer surgical procedure to additional cut back well being disparities.

Whereas social determinants of well being – outlined by the World Well being Group as “the situations wherein individuals are born, develop, stay, work and age” – immediately affect many people’ well being outcomes, we at Smile Prepare know we are able to all work collectively towards making the world a more healthy, happier, and extra equitable place.

Susannah (Susie) Schaefer is govt vice chair, president, and chief govt officer (CEO) of Smile Prepare, the world’s largest cleft-focused group with a sustainable and native mannequin of supporting surgical procedure and different types of complete cleft care.  In her position as president and CEO, she oversees Smile Prepare’s imaginative and prescient to increase entry to well being care and improve native cleft care capability in nations the place Smile Prepare has lively packages. 

This text is a part of WebMD/Medscape’s contributor program, which lets individuals and organizations exterior of WebMD/Medscape submit articles for consideration on our websites. Have an thought for a submission?  Electronic mail us at [email protected]


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