Smile Train and Lifebox Partnership

NGOs Smile Train and Lifebox Partner on Safer Surgery and Anesthesia Initiative in Low Resource Countries

Smile Train & Lifebox Partnership

World’s largest cleft organization joins forces with the only nonprofit devoted to safe surgery and anesthesia to conduct cutting-edge research, build healthcare capacity, and develop innovative technologies in nations across Africa and beyond

NEW YORK – Smile Train, the world’s largest cleft organization, today announced the Safe Surgery and Anesthesia Initiative in partnership with Lifebox, a global nonprofit organization that makes surgery safer in low-resource settings.

This initiative will develop cost-effective technical innovations, invest in critical education and training for health workers, and carry out related research – all essential components of safe surgical and anesthesia care. Ultimately, the partnership will reach more than 1,100 hospitals in 70 countries, elevating the standard of care for pediatric surgical patients around the globe.

“With a shared dedication to supporting safe, high-quality surgery and anesthesia, and a shared passion for scaling innovative technologies that can transform surgical care, Smile Train and Lifebox are now expanding on our history of fruitful collaborations,” said Smile Train President & CEO Susannah Schaefer. “As a nonprofit whose goal is to empower local medical professionals to treat patients with clefts in their own communities, we are thrilled to be working with Lifebox to bring additional training, education, and other critical resources to our global network of partners.”   

Dr. Atul Gawande, a surgeon, public-health researcher, co-founder and Chair of Lifebox, and member of the Biden-Harris Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board, will serve as the Initiative’s Global Ambassador. Dr. Gawande will lend his public health and global surgery expertise to support the strategy, vision and direction of the partnership.

“As a surgeon, I’ve seen the impact that high-quality training, resources and equipment can have in the operating room for providers and patients alike,” said Dr. Gawande. “I am honored to support the Safe Surgery and Anesthesia Initiative to bring better, safer care to cleft patients – strengthening surgical systems around the world. It will change lives. It will save lives.”

Together, Smile Train and Lifebox have jointly distributed more than 2,000 pulse oximeters globally. A pulse oximeter is critical for safe surgery and plays a vital role in the triage and care of COVID-19 patients.  Many hospitals urgently need more of these life-saving devices. The first phase of the partnership, launching this month, will see the distribution of 500 additional pulse oximeters across Africa and other regions, many still responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the next three years, Smile Train and Lifebox will work to identify and explore the development of more affordable, accessible solutions vital to ensuring safer surgery and anesthesia care.

“We look forward to this new initiative between Smile Train and Lifebox, focusing on local needs and scalable solutions to improve pediatric surgical and anesthesia care for thousands of children globally,” said Professor Miliard Derbew, pediatric surgeon, Lifebox Board Member, and Chief Executive Officer of King Faisal Hospital, Rwanda.

Smile Train's sustainable model empowers local medical professionals with training, funding, and resources to provide free cleft surgery and comprehensive cleft care to children globally. For over 20 years, Smile Train has supported safe and quality cleft care for more than 1.5 million children and will continue to do so until every child in need with a cleft has access to the care they deserve.

To learn more about Smile Train's global efforts, please visit Follow Smile Train on Twitter and Instagram @SmileTrain and like us on Facebook at


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

About Lifebox
Lifebox is a nonprofit organization working to improve the safety of surgery and anesthesia in low- and middle-income countries. Co-founded and chaired by Dr. Atul Gawande, Lifebox works to improve anesthesia safety, reduce surgical infection rates, and strengthen operating room teamwork through tools, training, and partnerships. Since its founding in 2011 Lifebox has worked in over 116 countries and trained more than 10,000 healthcare providers. To learn more about Lifebox, visit

Media Contacts
Nijha Diggs
Smile Train

Kitty Jenkin
+44 7803 425 743

Stephanie Baber