Global health charity Kids Operating Room (KidsOR) and Smile Train Africa have opened doors to a dedicated children’s Operating Room at The All Africa Leprosy and Rehabilitation Training Center (ALERT) Hospital in Addis Ababa-Ethiopia.
KidsOR was formally launched in January 2018 and believes in a world where every single child has the right to access safe surgery, on the other hand, Smile Train is the world’s largest cleft-focused organization, with a sustainable and local model of supporting surgery and other forms of essential care.
Smile Train Senior Program Manager East Africa, Sesnie Zemichael acknowledged the need to prioritize surgical care for children, praising the long-standing partnership with ALERT in providing timely surgical care for children with cleft.
“There are still many children in need of quality surgical care in Ethiopia. We are happy to have funded the refurbishment of the theater at ALERT, one of our longest-serving cleft care centers, and KidsOR brought life to the theaters with pristine equipment and vibrant artwork. It is such a pleasant experience for patients and medical professionals alike,” noted Sensei.
Director for Africa at KidsOR Rosemary Mugwe recognized the projected impact of having a dedicated theater for children: “Research estimates that by 2050, Ethiopia will have 58 million children under 18 years. Every child has a right to quality and timely surgery regardless of one’s social status or economic background.”
She also added, “This Operating Room is vital. Children should access surgical care when they need it not forgetting the ripple effect; less social and economic burden to caregivers and country at large.”
Research indicates that approximately 30 percent of the global burden of disease can be treated with surgery.
There are, on average, 0.03 pediatric surgeons per 100,000 children in low-income countries and one specialist surgeon for over 3 million children compared to one specialist pediatric surgeon for every 47,000 children in high-income countries.
ALERT Hospital Chief Executive Officer Dr. Ishmael Shemsedin hailed the partnership that brought the transformation to the theater, terming it as a healing space for children with surgical needs.
“This pediatric theater refurbished by Smile Train and KidsOR has elevated the quality of surgical care we will provide to our children, offering healing in an environment that makes them feel safe and comforted by the artworks and quality equipment,” said Dr. Ishmael.
The long-term collaboration of KidsOR and Smile Train will ultimately result in more than 30 pediatric operating rooms provided across Africa over the next five years, treating more than 12,000 children.
So far, the partnership has installed 14 pediatric hospitals since inking the partnership in 2021.
Additionally, the Smile Train-KidsOR partnership is also supporting a pediatric surgery scholarship for the training and education of 40 pediatric surgeons across Africa in partnership with the West African College of Surgeons (WACS) and the College of Surgeons of East, Central, and Southern Africa (COSECSA).
In May, KidsOR launched the first-ever dedicated pediatric theatre in a refugee camp. The Operating Room hosted at Kakuma General hospital is expected to serve over 90,000 children that reside of Kakuma Refugee Camp in addition to the host communities.
Two months earlier they had officially launched new children operating room alongside Smile Train at Makueni County Referral Hospital.
This new Operating Room will increase surgical provision at the hospital, whilst reducing cases referred on the 200km journey to Nairobi as had been done previously.
The facility will make access to life-saving surgical care faster & safer for the children of the county
The launch was officiated by the outgoing Makueni County Governor H.E Prof. Kivutha Kibwana. The children’s Operating Room was refurbished and equipped courtesy of Smile Train Africa Smile Train and Kids Operating Room (KidsOR).