Smile Train and the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) have announced a $1.2 million (Kshs. 130.8 million) programme that will provide education and training for 112 additional cleft and reconstructive surgeons in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Smile Train, the world largest cleft charity says the five-year programme aim to narrow the gap of 5 billion people who lack access to safe, affordable surgical and anaesthesia care in the continent.
Through this partnership, 12 surgeons will receive a full scholarship to a 3-year Plastic Surgery Fellowship, with four positions specifically reserved for female surgeons.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has proven the need to have more robust surgical systems in the local communities, and through Smile Train’s unique teach a man to fish model we can help elevate surgical capacity. Together with COSECSA, we are bridging the gap for the 5 billion people who lack access to safe, affordable surgical and anaesthesia care; and will increase the number of surgeons across Africa, including those who specialize in cleft care,” said Nkeiruka Obi, Vice President and Regional Director, Smile Train Africa.
The partnership will also support ten scholars to engage in an eight-month Post-Fellowship Cleft Surgery Certification program.
Smile Train will similarly support sixty scholars to attend country-level Train the Trainer Surgery Workshops as well as thirty scholars to participate in a fully funded Surgical Exchange program.
The charity will further support program management and the COSECSA examination processes.
“Smile Train led training innovation for cleft surgeons more than a decade ago when we first released our ground-breaking Cleft Surgery DVD, which has since evolved into an award-winning Virtual Surgery Simulator. We are truly transforming the landscape of cleft treatment around the world, and in doing so transforming surgical systems,” said Esther Njoroge-Muriithi, Senior Vice President, Global Medical Programs, Smile Train.
According to the 2015 Lancet Commission on Global Surgery, 143 million additional surgical procedures are needed in Low Middle Income Countries (LMICs) annually, to save lives and prevent disability, and every year an estimated 81 million people face catastrophic financial expenditure due to costs associated with seeking surgical care.
A surgical workforce crisis threatens to only heighten these global inequities, and investments in surgical workforce capacity are essential.
“The burden of surgical care is astronomical and out of reach for many, and families gamble with fundraisers to the tunes of millions to receive better care in developed nations. Through the investment in the knowledge exchange in our MoU with Smile Train, we aim to build confidence in Africa’s surgeons, find local solutions to local challenges and administer quality, more affordable care in the local community,” added, Prof. Godfrey Muguti, President of COSECSA.
Smile Train, which has active cleft care programs in 40 countries across Africa, has 245+ partners and 255+ partner hospitals across the continent