Smile Train commits to Advancing Innovation in Nigeria’s Healthcare System

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Smile Train has reiterated its commitment towards advancing sustainable innovation in Nigetia’ s health care system.

Vice-President and Regional Director for Africa Mrs. Nkeiruka Obi made this known at the 8th edition of the Nigerian Healthcare Excellence Award (NHEA 2022), where Smile Train was feted in the Special Award Category for Excellence in Creation of The First Cleft E-Registry in Nigeria and The Deployment of The Cleft Finder App.

Speaking while receiving the award for the second year in a row, Obi acknowledged the long journey ahead in providing quality healthcare for all. She expressed commitment from Smile Train to continuously innovate ways for decision makers to make evidence-based policies to ensure patients have access to safe, quality and comprehensive care.

She said, “Lack of proper surgical infrastructure, high cost of treatment, and poorly trained medical professionals are some of the barriers that hinder access to safe surgery in Low-to-middle income countries. Research and innovation have created entry points to advocating for access to safe surgical and anaesthesia care at local level.”

The Cleft e-registry went live in February 2022 as part of implementing the National Surgical Obstetrics Anaesthesia and Nursing Plan (NSOANP) in Nigeria. The personnel working on the platform received training and equipment such as laptops and tablets to monitor, troubleshoot and solve any challenges that may occur.

To date, Smile Train has registered 562 patients out of whom 175 have received surgery. The data collected has empowered policy and decision makers to make evidence- based impact in the society.

The Cleft Finder App now called the Cleft Care Companion App which is also revolutionizing identification and referral of patients with cleft, has been more successful in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The application which is available on Android and IOS app stores will launch in Nigeria soon.

Mrs. Obi added, “We are in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health to strengthen surgical systems which has a ripple effect in the overall improvement of local health systems.

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The cleft e-registry is unique way for our medical professionals to collect data and use it for policy development. The Cleft Care Companion enables anyone anywhere to identify and refer a patient with cleft to the nearest Smile Train partner hospital as well as educate the user on cleft.”

According to research by the Lancet Commission, an estimated 85 percent of children in sub-Saharan Africa will develop a surgical condition by the age of 15 years. They risk permanent disability or death without receiving early surgical intervention.

Mrs. Obi added: “Smile Train is keen on driving innovation as a torchlight to our healthcare sector to provide safe, timely, high-quality surgical services and comprehensive cleft care in the local community all year round. We thank the organizing committee for NHEA for acknowledging our contribution to service delivery.”

Smile Train has active cleft care programs in 41 countries across Africa with more than 245 partners and over 255 partner hospitals across the continent. Through strategic partnerships at the local and international level, Smile Train dedicates itself towards providing funding towards quality healthcare capacity building and advocacy to increase access to safer surgeries and cleft care in low- and middle-income countries.

Among the strategic investments in education and training include partnerships with Scottish Charity KidsOR, the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) and the West African College of Surgeons (WACS) to provide scholarships in various categories. Recently, Smile Train has broken ground in Ghana for Africa’s first Cleft Leadership Centre to build the capacity of cleft professionals to dispense global standards of care at local level.

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