COVID-19 is touching us all. Below you will find the latest updates and FAQs from Operation Smile.
Updated on 31st March 2020
How is the coronavirus impacting Operation Smile?
- Programmes/Medical Missions
- Unfortunately, we do not expect coronavirus activity to decrease anytime soon. As such, Operation Smile is doing everything it can to build plans to keep our patients, volunteers and staff protected and healthy, and to support the health systems where we work.Operation Smile continues to monitor information produced by international health agencies and global health experts, as well as consultations with in-country executives, the local governments, health authorities, and hospitals, to determine the latest impact to our scheduled programmes.
- For the time being, all programmes to include medical missions, education and training, and public activities in Operation Smile programme countries have been temporarily paused. This includes Operation Smile’s year-round care centres. We are taking a case-by-case approach in consultation with our in-country executives, and anticipate further cancellations and postponements through April, May and June.
- We are in frequent contact with our programme country offices to monitor this evolving situation. The safety of our volunteers, patients and staff is of the utmost importance, and we are exercising caution in every decision.We will do our best to reschedule care for our patients as soon as possible once programme activities resume.
- We recognise that postponement of missions for any reason has a direct impact on patient care. We are reaching out to our patients, via all communication methods available, to alert them of our change in activity and to ensure they are well-supported. In the event of a mission postponement or centre closure, we will reschedule care for our patients as soon as possible once programme activities resume.
- Effective 6th March 2020, Operation Smile suspended all volunteers from travelling to all Operation Smile mission sites and from participating in our activities outside of their country of residence.
- This directive remains in place while all programs and activities are temporarily paused and will be updated once programme activities resume.
- Programmes/Medical Missions
What is Operation Smile doing to prevent the spreading of Covid-19?
Operation Smile is monitoring the current status of the coronavirus outbreak that began in Wuhan, China in December 2019.
Operation Smile worked with the local team in China to asses our programmes, to ensure the safety of our patients, our volunteers, our staff and their families. For this reason at the end of January we decided to postpone until further notice our medical missions in China and to temporarily halt participation of medical volunteers from China in all other Operation Smile worldwide medical programmes.
From the beginning of March, due to the recent worldwide spread of the virus, we decided to suspend all international travel for volunteers and international staff who were to serve on Operation Smile programmes and activities for March and April.
Are volunteers and employees travelling internationally?
No. We have suspended all international volunteers and employees from traveling while all Operation Smile missions and activities are paused.
Are postponed/cancelled missions going to be re-scheduled when Operation Smile resumes regular activity?
Our global programme teams are following prevailing national and local guidelines to inform our future planning. To date, we are uncertain of when we will be able to resume programmes, but we are working closely with hospital partners and with governing authorities and will restart programming as soon as it is safe to do so.
How is Operation Smile supporting medical professionals on the frontlines during this pandemic both locally and globally?
Operation Smile is grateful to its 6,000 global medical volunteers who donate their time and talent to make our medical missions possible. Today we are proud to say that many of these outstanding professionals are now part of the teams of healthcare workers on the frontlines fighting the COVID-19 pandemic in their respective countries. To support them, many of our programme countries including Vietnam, the Philippines, Morocco, Nicaragua and Guatemala are donating supplies to their local partner hospitals to help ease shortages.
What happens to my gift?
While our medical missions are temporarily paused, we are working at the programme country level to use any and all communication methods that allow us to keep in contact with our patients and their families. Our team in Nicaragua is using video conferencing and Facebook Live to contact patients, for example. We have worked hard to balance the responsibility we have to serve our patients and their families, with the need for safety at every level.
Additionally, we continue to assess how we can expand our activities in education and training during this challenging situation. Your donations will help enable us to maintain our commitment to our patients, which includes replenishing supplies and equipment when we can resume programmatic activity.