Addis Ababa – The All Africa Leprosy and Rehabilitation Training Center (ALERT) Hospital has opened doors to a dedicated children’s operating room with support from global charities Smile Train and Kids Operating Room (KidsOR).
Sesnie Zemichael, Smile Train’s Senior Program Manager East Africa, recognized the need to prioritize surgical care for children and commended ALERT’s longstanding partnership in providing timely surgical care for children with clefts.
“There are still many children in Ethiopia who need quality surgical care. We are delighted to have funded the theater renovation at ALERT, one of our longest serving cleft care centers, and KidsOR has brought the theaters to life with immaculate fixtures and vibrant artwork. It’s such a pleasant experience for patients and healthcare professionals alike,” remarked Sesnie.
Rosemary Mugwe, Africa director at KidsOR, recognized the predicted impact of having your own theater for children: “Research estimates that by 2050, Ethiopia will have 58 million children under the age of 18. Every child has the right to quality and timely surgery, regardless of social status or economic background. This operating room is vital. Children should access surgical care if necessary, not forgetting about the ripple effect. less social and economic burden on caregivers and the country as a whole.”
Research shows that approximately 30 percent of the global burden of disease can be treated with surgery. In low-income countries, there is an average of 0.03 pediatric surgeons per 100,000 children and one specialty pediatric surgeon for over 3 million children, compared to one specialty pediatric surgeon for every 47,000 children in high-income countries.
ALERT Hospital’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Ishmael Shemsedin, hailed the partnership that has brought transformation to the theater, describing it as a place of healing for children with surgical needs.
“Renovated by Smile Train and KidsOR, this children’s theater has enhanced the quality of surgical care we will be providing to our children, offering healing in an environment where the artwork and quality furnishings make them feel safe and secure,” said Dr . Ishmael.
The long-term collaboration between KidsOR and Smile Train will ultimately result in the deployment of more than 30 pediatric operating rooms across Africa over the next five years, treating more than 12,000 children. So far, the partnership has established 14 children’s hospitals since the partnership was signed in 2021. In addition, the Smile Train-KidsOR partnership supports a pediatric surgery grant in partnership with the West African College for the training and education of 40 pediatric surgeons across Africa of Surgeons (WACS) and the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa ( COSECSA).