Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS) has partnered with the world's largest cleft charity, Smile Train, to conduct a three-day nursing training workshop.
The training at the Atlantic Lumley Hotel in Freetown is aimed at building the capacity of nurses in Sierra Sierra Leone.
Speaking during the opening session, Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation I, Dr. Anthony Augustine Sandi, welcomed the support from Smile Train to help equip 50 nurses with critical life-saving skills, which will improve the quality of healthcare in the country.
"Nurses play a vital role in saving lives and are often the first point of contact in care of patients. We therefore need to empower them with skills that help identify and respond quickly to emergencies. We commend Smile Train for sharing these skills which can also be taught among peers hence more sustainable in our hospitals," he stated.
Smile Train has partnered with 245+ hospitals and 255+ medical professionals in 40 countries across Africa,to provide free comprehensive cleft treatment. To date, Smile Train's local medical partners have provided more than 120,000 life-changing cleft surgeries across Africa. The charity is certified by American Heart Association to offer Basic Life Support and Pediatric Advanced Life Support for partners.
On her part, Smile Train Program Director for West and Central Africa, Nkeiruka Obi underscored the importance of transferring life-saving skills among nurses.
She described cleft as a common birth difference that occurs when certain body parts and structures do not fuse together during fetal development, adding that they can involve the lip and/or the roof of the mouth.
She said causes of a cleft remain unknown but risk factors include environmental factors, lack of proper nutrition, as well as genetics.
She said children with cleft around the world live in isolation, making it difficult to make friends and go to school, but more importantly, have difficult in eating, breathing, and speaking.
"Smile Train employs a sustainable approach towards treating cleft lip and palate by adapting the "teaches a man to fish" model of training local medical professionals. One such training is "Safe Nursing Care Saves Lives" program for nurses which have impacted over 500 nurses in Africa. By the end of the training, nurses will be confident, competent practitioners who are able to apply their knowledge and experience to deliver safe and effective nursing care. This not only saves children undergoing cleft surgery but also every patient they care for," noted Mrs. Obi.