In Tanzania, NGOs Smile Train and Kids Operating Room Complete Renovation on First Joint Pediatric Operating Room


New York – 14 June 2021 – Smile Train, the world's largest cleft charity, and global children’s health charity Kids Operating Room (KidsOR) are celebrating the first milestone of the organizations’ life-saving partnership with the completion of the first renovated pediatric operating room at Bugando Medical Centre in Mwanza, Tanzania. 

The state-of-the-art pediatric operating room and recovery ward have been outfitted with the latest medical equipment as well as colorful wall art of animals, trains, and balloons—designs that are meant to transform the often-intimidating environment of an operating room into a welcoming, child-friendly space.

A dedicated pediatric operating room is essential for Bugando Medical Centre, which serves a region of over 14 million people and averages over 9,000 operations each year.  

Bugando Medical Centre Acting Director General Dr. Fabian Massaga emphasized the importance of having an operating room dedicated to pediatric surgical care providing essential, life-saving surgical care to children. “With many patients seeking surgical care at our facilities, children are often neglected when it comes to accessing quality surgery. Being able to prioritize pediatric surgical care empowers our teams to support the next generation. The operating rooms breathe fresh air into the hospital’s surgical department, and children are able to recover in a more comforting environment,” said Dr. Massaga.

Smile Train Vice-President and Regional Director for Africa Dr. Esther Njoroge-Muriithi was elated at the milestone completion of the operating room, which she sees as an indication of a much larger—and much-needed—shift within access to surgical care within Tanzania and across the region.  

“The new operating room will not only allow surgeons to enhance their skills in caring for children, but also significantly impact the lives of the children we aim to transform through surgery. Children with easily treatable surgical conditions, like cleft lip and palate, can receive high quality, life-saving care when they need it the most,” said Dr. Njoroge-Muriithi. 

Rosemary Mugwe, Africa Director for KidsOR, celebrated the completion of the pediatric operating room and the role of dedicated pediatric surgeons.

“By installing world-class surgical facilities as we have done in Bugando Medical Centre and by training surgical teams as pediatric specialists, children can get the care they need. By building local capacity in this way, we help to create sustainable healthcare services,” said Rosemary Mugwe.

Smile Train and KidsOR share a long-standing commitment to increasing access to pediatric surgical and anesthesia care through a sustainable and empowering model. In partnership with the West African College of Surgeons and the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa, Smile Train and KidsOR will also support training and education for more than 40 surgeons across Africa, building long-term local surgical capacity. 

Over the last two decades, Smile Train has empowered local medical professionals to provide safe, high-quality cleft surgery and on-going cleft care, supporting more than 1.5 million surgeries for some of the world’s most vulnerable children over the last two decades.

Similarly, KidsOR, which was founded in 2018 after years of collaboration around safe surgery, works to provide dedicated, specialist facilities and equipment for pediatric surgery in low-resource settings, and to support local surgical teams through training and infrastructure development. KidsOR has committed to installing 120 pediatric operating rooms across Africa by 2030. 
An estimated two-thirds of the world’s children lack access to safe surgical care. The long-term collaboration will ultimately result in more than 30 pediatric operating rooms provided across countries in Africa over the next five years, treating more than 12,000 children. 


About Smile Train
Smile Train empowers local medical professionals with training, funding, and resources to provide free cleft surgery and comprehensive cleft care to children globally. We 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. To learn more about how Smile Train's sustainable approach means donations have both an immediate and long-term impact, please visit

About Kids Operating Room (KidsOR)
Kids Operating Room is a global children’s health charity working to give every child access to safe surgery when they need it. Over two billion children lack access to safe surgery. Every year, more children die from not getting the surgery they need than from Malaria, HIV and TB combined. KidsOR saves the lives of children in low- and middle-income countries by installing and equipping state-of-the art Operating Rooms dedicated to children’s surgery, and training surgical teams to work in them. Since 2018, KidsOR has provided over 34,000 life-changing operations across 29 Operating Rooms in 14 countries. 

Press Contacts:

Smile Train
Emily Manjeru
PR & Communications Manager, Africa
+254 724 926 269/ +254737 621 668
[email protected]

Kids Operating Room
Kate Smith
Head of Fundraising and Communications
Tel: +44 7741 323 222
[email protected]