Dec 13, 2018
Representatives from Alliance for Smiles
Alliance for Smiles

In October of 2004 six members of the Rotary Club of San Francisco founded Alliance for Smiles (AfS). Each of them had been involved with other cleft lip and palate organizations and collectively they wanted to create two types of programs: to send medical teams to sites to perform corrective surgery, and to create treatment centers where the protocol of cleft treatment in the United States could be replicated.

With these two dreams as the goal, Alliance for Smiles recruited Dr. Karin Vargervik, Director of the Cleft Lip and Palate Treatment Center at the UCSF Medical Center, to head the Treatment Center Program.

Why China was chosen as the first country to be approached with this concept

There was a tremendous need for treatment as one in 350 children were born annually with the cleft anomaly

AfS members had pre-existing relationships with the China Population Welfare Foundation and the State Family Planning Commission to facilitate the logistics. Additionally, there was an infra-structure that could be used to set up treatment centers.

There was also an intense interest by the Chinese to learn about treatment centers and establish them at sites.

From just two missions to China in 2005, Alliance for Smiles has grown quickly. As of 2018 we have completed over 80 missions all over the world, and treated over 6,500 patients!