- BY ROLAND OGBONNAYA in Lagos•
Smile Train, the world’s leading cleft organisation, on Tuesday announced their partnership with the West African College of Surgeons (WACS) to launch theSmile Train-WACS Cleft Surgical Certification.
The Certification will grant six surgeons per year over the next five years the opportunity to specialise in cleft care across West Africa.
In a statement by Emily Manjeru, Smile Train PR & Communications Manager, Africa, the one- year Post-Graduate Program will commence in February 2020. WACS will identify accredited centers to serve as training sites in Nigeria, Ghana and French West Africa.
The Certification is open to applicants in all West African and CEMAC zone countries with priority being given to trainees from countries without significant Smile Train presence.
Speaking during the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which took place at The College in Lagos recently, Smile Train Program Director of West and Central Africa, Mrs. Nkeiruka Obi, noted that the care for cleft patients required more capacity building for surgeons, hence will leverage the college resources to elevate the surgical expertise for local surgeons in the region.
“Smile Train’s sustainable model provides training, funding, and resources to empower local medical professionals to provide free cleft surgery and comprehensive cleft care in their own communities. Through this ground-breaking investment, we will enhance our interventions by establishing centers of excellence across West Africa,” noted Mrs. Obi.
President of WACS, Professor Serigne Magueye Gueye welcomed the partnership and expressed commitment to ensuring that the local surgeons from the Certification match the global quality standards of cleft care set forth by Smile Train.
“We are dedicated to ensuring that we not only equip the local surgeons handling cleft, but also aim at establishing connections in developing other program areas of comprehensive cleft care such as speech therapy and orthodontics.
“Our highly skilled faculty will be sourced from local cleft surgeons and adjunct lecturers from relevantdepartments in the hospital in which the programme will be running,” said Professor Gueye.
Globally, every three minutes a baby is born with cleft. A cleft occurs when certain body parts and structures do not fuse together during fetal development. Clefts can involve the lip and/or the roof of the mouth, which is made up of both hard and soft palate.
To-date, Smile Train has supported more than 113,000 cleft surgeries across 38 countries in Africa. 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 has over time empowered local medical professionals with training, funding, and resources to provide free cleft surgery and comprehensive cleft care to children globally.
They also advance a sustainable solution and scalable global health model for cleft treatment, drastically improving children’s lives, including their ability to eat, breathe, speak, and ultimately thrive.
On its part the West African College of Surgeons is a professional organization that promotes education, training, examinations and research in surgery in Africa. The college is the first organization to organize surgical subspecialty training in the region.