Smile Train, a cleft charity, has strengthened its partnership with the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) to invest in the education and training of 112 additional cleft and reconstructive surgeons. The partnership is also expected to strengthen the surgical systems in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Through this partnership, 12 surgeons will receive a full scholarship to a 3-year Plastic Surgery Fellowship, with four positions specifically reserved for female surgeons. The partnership will also support ten scholars to engage in an eight-month Post-Fellowship Cleft Surgery Certification program.

Additionally, 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 over a five-year period. Smile Train will further support program management and the COSECSA examination processes.

Smile Train has continuously supported COSECSA’s training programs over the last 5 years. This increased investment is part of the organization’s commitment to scaling cleft surgical education and training.

“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,” said Esther Njoroge Muriithi, Senior Vice President, Global Medical Programs, Smile Train.

The partnership comes against a backdrop of increased need for qualified surgeons in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

According to the 2015 Lancet Commission on Global Surgery, 143 million additional surgical procedures are needed in LMICs each year to save lives and prevent disability. Every year an estimated 81 million people face catastrophic financial expenditure due to costs associated with seeking surgical care.

Prof. Godfrey Muguti, President of COSECSA, welcomed the partnership, noting Smile Train’s keen interest in empowering surgeons in the region.

The burden of surgical care is astronomical and out of reach for many, and families gamble with fundraisers to the tunes of millions to receive better care in developed nations. Through the investment in the knowledge exchange in our 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,” he noted.

Interested applicants are encouraged to review the qualifications and apply through COSECSA’s website.

Smile Train, which has active cleft care programs in 40 countries across Africa, has over 245 partners and more than 255 partner hospitals across the continent. At the core of Smile Train’s model is local capacity building for the cleft ecosystem professionals including surgeons, anaesthetists, nurses, nutritionists, midwives, speech therapists and orthodontists.