Addis Abeba – The All Africa Leprosy and Rehabilitation Training Center (ALERT) Hospital has opened doors to a dedicated children’s Operating Room with the support from global charities Smile Train and Kids Operating Room (KidsOR).
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 center and KidsOR brought life to the theaters with the pristine equipment and vibrant artwork. It is such a pleasant experience for patient and medical professionals alike,” noted Sesnie.
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. 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).