Smile Train, a leading charity organization supporting free corrective surgeries and comprehensive care for patients with cleft lip and palate will commence its SAFE (Safer Anaesthesia from Education) Paediatric programme in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The SAFE programme aims to benefit Smile Train affiliated partner hospitals in the country by providing refresher training in the basics of pediatric anaesthesia which emphasizes the principles of safe care for children, in particular, assessment, vigilance and competence in essential skills.
“Most African countries are lacking adequate infrastructure needed for the repair of cleft lip and palate, thus making it difficult for the medical professionals to perform the surgeries. With this programme, Smile Train hopes to tackle these challenges,” said Dr. Esther Njoroge Smile Train’s Vice President and Regional Director for Africa.
“We are training them on the safest modes available for anaesthesia while carrying out the cleft surgeries in local hospitals,”
Clefts are the leading birth defects in many developing countries, and it is estimated that more than 200,000 babies are born with the defect every year.
The training will be in Kinshasa, Congo in partnership with Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital in Kinshasa, and will benefit 32 anaesthesia providers from DR Congo.
A cleft lip is a gap or a tear in the upper lip, while a cleft palate is a gap in the roof of the mouth. Cleft is much more than a cosmetic issue. It is also a health and survival problem, affecting eating, breathing and speaking, and carries the risk of severe malnutrition and even death for children.
Globally, 1 in every 700 children is born with a cleft lip and/or palate. Clefts are the leading birth defect in many developing countries. The cleft incidence rate of individuals of Africa descent is approximately 1 in 1,200 births.
Smile Train has been actively supporting programs in Africa since 2002. In that time, the organization has developed local partnerships at 244 partner hospitals. In addition to cleft surgery, they actively support training of nurses, anesthetists, surgeons, speech therapists and orthodontists in cleft care, nutrition programs, speech therapy and orthodontics.
Smile Train empowers local medical professionals with training and education so that they can provide free cleft surgery and comprehensive cleft care to children in their own communities.