To Increase Health Care Access In Developing Countries, Improve Local Capacities, Relationships, Create Support Networks

Devex: Opinion: The secret to increasing global access to health care
Susannah Schaefer, executive vice chair and CEO of Smile Train

“Nearly five billion people across the world lack access to safe and affordable surgical care. This burden is felt most acutely in low- and middle-income countries where — among many health emergencies and needs — untreated birth defects impact individuals’ abilities to pursue education or professional opportunities. … [H]ere are three key lessons Smile Train has learned about how to improve access to health care in developing countries, which we think could be applicable to any nongovernmental organization with a similar goal. 1. Bolster local health care capacities in developing countries. … 2. Balance between a laser-focus on one key vision, while also providing additional supplementary patient resources. … 3. Emphasize the importance of local relationships. … [W]ith Smile Train’s model, we work to empower communities to become less dependent on outside aid over time, creating a sustainable response not just to cleft lip and/or palate — but other pressing global health care issues as well” (11/27).