Africa: Smile Train, COSECSA, Invest U.S.$1.2 Million to Enhance Surgical Training in Africa

16 September 2021

In a bid to strengthen the surgical systems in Sub-Saharan, Smile Train, world's largest cleft charity, in partnership with the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) has invested a total of $1.2 million in the education and training of 112 additional cleft and reconstructive surgeons across Africa.

In a recently signed statement by Smile Trains's Media Spokesperson, Emily Manjeru, the investment was said to be aimed at narrowing the gap of 5 billion people who lack access to safe, affordable surgical and anaesthesia care.

The statement revealed that through the partnership of the two organisations, 12 surgeons will receive a full scholarship to a three-year plastic surgery fellowship, with four positions specifically reserved for female surgeons.

The partnership will also support 10 scholars to engage in an eight-month post-fellowship cleft surgery certification program.

"In addition, over a five-year period, Smile Train will 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.

"Smile Train will further support program management and the COSECSA examination processes. Smile Train has continuously supported COSECSA's training programs over the last five years.

"This increased investment is part of the organisation's commitment to scaling cleft surgical education and training."

Speaking more about the training, Senior Vice President, Global Medical Programs, Smile Train, Esther Njoroge-Muriithi said, "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 also distribute the highest-fidelity cleft simulation devices in the world through our division Simulare.

"We support our more than 1,100 partners with a range of education and training opportunities throughout the year. We are truly transforming the landscape of cleft treatment around the world, and in doing so transforming surgical systems."

Similarly, the Vice President and Regional Director, Smile Train Africa, Mrs. Nkeiruka Obi said the "partnership comes against a backdrop of increased need for qualified surgeons in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

"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 specialise in cleft care."

In his remarks, President of COSECSA, Prof. Godfrey Muguti, noted that the burden of surgical care was astronomical and out of reach for many, and families gamble with fundraisers to the tune of millions to receive better care in developed nations.

He said through the investment in the knowledge exchange in the organisation's 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."

The statement further encouraged interested applicants are encouraged to review the qualifications and apply through COSECSA's website.

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