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 Plastic Surgeon Prof Faustin Ntirenganya and Dr Furaha Charles, Dr Françoise Mukagaju, Dr Ian Shyaka, Dr Yves Nezerwa, Dr Mukamitari Victoire, Dr Oyuzuzo Thierry, Dr Jean Luc Niyonsaba, Dr Eugene Sindikubwabo, Dr Clovis Paulin Baramburiye, Dr Emmanuel Tuyisenge.

Local Leaders, Global Health: Building Resilient Health Systems in Africa

Local Leaders, Global Health: Building Resilient Health Systems in Africa

Africa Day, observed annually on May 25, commemorates a significant milestone in the continent's history: the establishment of the first union of African countries in 1963. It's a day dedicated to reflecting on Africa's progress, embracing its diversity and reaffirming our dedication to its future. At Operation Smile, we're deeply honored to be part of Africa's journey, particularly in the realm of healthcare and education. 

In Africa, Operation Smile provides surgical and comprehensive care for patients and educational programs for healthcare workers across 11 countries. Since 1987, Operation Smile has delivered high-quality care to approximately 9,000 patients in Kenya alone. Our reach extends to countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, Rwanda and South Africa, where it partners and collaborates closely with local communities, hospitals, governments, ministries of health, universities and healthcare professionals to improve access to essential healthcare services and education and training 

This year's African Union theme, "Educate an African fit for the 21st Century: Building resilient education systems for increased access to inclusive, lifelong, quality and relevant learning in Africa," profoundly resonates with our mission. Our work in Africa extends beyond surgical interventions; it's about constructing sustainable healthcare systems capable of withstanding challenges and serving communities for generations to come. 

Empowering Through Education 
At Operation Smile, we've long understood the transformative power of education and training in revolutionizing healthcare delivery. Our approach emphasizes capacity building and development to ensure the long-term sustainability of our initiatives. Through strategic partnerships with academic institutions, ministries of health, and corporate entities, we deliver targeted programs tailored to address the specific needs of local healthcare systems.

Fostering Collaborative Partnerships 
Our collaborations with esteemed institutions like the University of Rwanda and Jimma University Specialized Hospital in Ethiopia have enabled us to strengthen existing training programs and expand opportunities for local surgeons and other healthcare practitioners. By leveraging the expertise of local medical leaders and collaborating with international organizations such as the American Heart Association and the World Federation Societies of Anesthesia, we provide comprehensive training that meets global standards. 

Addressing Healthcare Workforce Challenges 
Africa faces significant challenges in healthcare workforce shortages, with only two doctors and 11 nurses/midwives per 10,000 people. Operation Smile recognizes the urgency of this issue and actively engages in mitigating it through education initiatives and specialized training programs like our Women in Medicine Initiative and our Champion Program. We aim to create opportunities for specialty training that might not be available in the countries where we work, knowing their ripple effect int the communities we serve. For instance, our Cleft Surgery Training Program (CSTP) aims to credential local surgeons and cleft care providers, ensuring accessibility to essential care for those most in need. 

Our collaboration with regional bodies like the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) and the College of Anesthesiologists of East, Central and Southern Africa (CANECSA) is instrumental in building a robust healthcare workforce that can meet the diverse needs of African communities. 

As we commemorate Africa Day, we envision a future where every African has access to quality healthcare and education. Operation Smile remains steadfast in its commitment to this vision, empowering communities, training healthcare professionals, and building resilient health systems across Africa—a journey towards a healthier, more prosperous Africa for all.  


It takes as little as $240 and as few as 45 minutes to provide life-changing surgery and a bright, beautiful new smile to a waiting child.