”Smiles Change Lives” campaign launched to help fund treatment for children with clefts

  • GSK Consumer Healthcare and Smile Train, the world’s largest cleft-focused organization, committed to a strategic partnership at global level to offer free, life-changing surgery and comprehensive cleft care to children with cleft lip and/or palate in more than 90 countries, including Romania, providing at least 13,500 free, safe, high quality cleft repair surgeries over 5 years.
  • It is estimated that globally, 200,000 babies are born with a cleft every year, with 1 in every 700 babies born with this condition.
  • In Romania, it is estimated that 1 in every 600 babies is born with a cleft lip and/or palate and approximately 350 babies are born with a cleft every year.


GSK Consumer Healthcare and Smile Train, the world’s largest cleft-focused organization, launched the campaign “Smiles Change Lives” that aims to help provide treatment for children with clefts and to eliminate the stigma often associated with it. The funds raised in the campaign will help support Smile Train’s cleft programs, including those at Maria Sklodowska Curie Clinical Children’s Hospital. At the same time, the campaign aims to increase the awareness and education among dentists about the treatment they can offer before and after the surgery for children with clefts.

A cleft occurs when certain body parts and structures do not fuse together during foetal development. Clefts can involve the lip and/or the roof of the mouth, which is made up of both hard and soft palate and, if left untreated, children will often struggle to eat, breathe and speak properly, leaving them isolated from communities and left with on-going health issues. Globally, it is estimated that 200,000 babies are born with a cleft every year, with 1 in every 700 children babies born with this condition. In Romania, the estimation is that 1 in every 600 children is born with a cleft lip and/or palate and it is estimated that approximately 350 children are born with a cleft every year.

The campaign launched in Romania supports the global partnership, by donating the amount of 1 lei for each oral hygiene product from the participating brands, purchased in June 2021 and will involve all GSK Consumer Healthcare Oral Health products commercialized in Romania: Sensodyne, parodontax, Aquafresh and Corega. In parallel, GSK Consumer Healthcare employees can also donate to this cause and the money raised will be matched by the company. Besides the important financial contribution that will help provide operations and care for children with a cleft, the partnership goes further, to help raise awareness about cleft among both consumers and experts and provide vital support in oral health and hygiene for patients, as part of the overall care pathway. In Romania, throughout this year, a calendar of webinars dedicated to dentists will unfold, organized around topics related to treating the cleft condition of children up to 18 years old.

“Many babies born with cleft lip and palate do not get treated, as parents aren’t always aware of the options for treatment and funding. To address this, we are proud to launch this global campaign in Romania, to help improve the lives of children affected by this condition here locally. With GSK Consumer Healthcare’s heritage in specialist oral health, we know the importance of a healthy mouth. Our efforts contribute to funding the necessary surgeries and training medical teams to treat and manage this condition, but also to raise awareness so parents know about the available options.” said Nigel Stephenson, General Manager GSK Consumer Healthcare Romania & Moldova.

Smile Train is the world’s largest cleft-focused organization, with a sustainable, local model that provides a full spectrum of free, comprehensive cleft care to its patients. From nutritional support and surgery to speech therapy and oral health care, the international NGO has supported more than 1.5 million patients since 1999.

Maria Sklodowska Curie is one of Smile Train’s newest partners, having joined our global partner network in 2020, and the only Smile Train partner in the country. To-date, Smile Train has supported cleft surgeries at the partner hospital and provided grant funding to support the cleft team’s orthodontic program. We are keen to see the comprehensive cleft care services at this hospital grow, as well as investment in education and surgical and non-surgical outreach programs to reach cleft patients from other areas of the country. Expanding these programs will allow Smile Train and GSK Consumer Healthcare to continue working together to transform the lives of cleft patients and their families in Romania,” added Shannon Lambert, Vice President & Regional Director, Americas & Europe Smile Train.

GSK and Smile Train’s common ambition in Romania is to create the framework and opportunity for every child with a cleft to be treated safely and as soon as possible. The partnership relies on the specialized medical team at Maria Sklodowska Curie Clinical Children’s Hospital that spearheads the efforts to help treat cleft in Romania and the region – not just the surgeries themselves, but also training, public education, regional knowledge exchange, and much more.

As recently as 20 years ago, cleft used to be a terrible condition, a live threatening condition in Romania, with high rates of early deaths. Meanwhile, science and medicine have evolved to the point where parental education happens well before the child is born and related treatment needs can be addressed as soon as birth. Romania as well, made significant progress in managing this disease, from specialising medical teams across the country to informing the ones affected about the medical options they may access. But our efforts are far from being over and there are still dentists reluctant to provide care to these patients, as there are still vulnerable families who are not aware of their options. We welcome all the support we may get to continue our efforts in reaching a no-cleft-left untreated goal. Thanks to GSK Consumer Healthcare and Smile Train’s campaign, we already performed timely and safe surgeries and post operatory treatments for 40 cleft patients last year.”, affirmed Conf. Univ. Dr. Radu Spătaru, the Medical Director of Maria Sklodowska Curie Clinical Children’s Hospital.

The event was also attended by Diana Loreta Păun, presidential adviser on Public Health, by Ioana Mihăilă, the Romanian Minister of Health and Andrew Noble, the UK Ambassador in Bucharest.

babieschildrencleft lipcleftsGSK Consumer HealthcareMaria Sklodowska Curie Clinical Children’s HospitalpalateSmile Trainsurgeries
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