The novel coronavirus may have caused social distancing, but for Smile Train, it has also presented a unique opportunity to further our commitment to building capacity among local healthcare professionals by partnering with the West African College of Surgeons (WACS) on an online series called the Telecleft Lectures.
The Lectures, which began on 27 April, brought together some of Africa’s leading cleft surgeons and cleft care providers to deliver hour-long lectures two times each week. Smile Train’s Program Director for West and Central Africa, Nkeiruka Obi, acknowledged WACS’s support in empowering Smile Train partners as they improve the skills that will bring healing to their communities for years to come.
“The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically shifted our interactions, but also created an opportunity for partners across Africa to share knowledge on the new trends in cleft care. The Telecleft Lectures are part of our commitment to providing the highest standard of comprehensive cleft care across Africa. Our partnership with the West African College of Surgeons has made it possible for us to provide carefully designed weekly educational sessions and lectures presented by Africa’s top-flight professionals in the cleft ecosystem,” she noted.
Prof. Adetokunbo Adebola, WACS’s Program Coordinator, said that the partnership with Smile Train has allowed surgeons to continue learning despite social distancing. “The lectures covered wide spheres of cleft care, which was edifying for the attendees,” he said, adding, “WACS will be awarding CME points for full participation to the attendees, which will be instrumental as they renew their medical certificates.”
Smile Train has always partnered directly with local treatment centers to strengthen regional healthcare systems and empower medical professionals to offer truly comprehensive, best-in-class cleft care to children in their own communities. In one of the talks, Professor Oluranti DaCosta, a lecturer with the College of Medicine at the University of Lagos, acknowledged that Smile Train’s efforts will go a long way towards building medical capacity in Africa for years to come.
“We would like to appreciate Smile Train for putting together these lecturers, which enable healthcare providers to continue providing quality cleft treatment. We need to identify more opportunities for collaboration so we can continue providing sustainable healthcare,” she said.
Smile Train has been actively supporting programs in Africa since 2002. In that time, the organization has developed local partnerships with more than 245 partner hospitals throughout the continent to support more than 120,000 free cleft surgeries.