Ethiopian cleft surgeon completes training stay in Pakistan

Our first aid mission for children with cleft lip and palate in Jijiga, Ethiopia, only took place at the end of November 2022. A second mission took place in June 2023. In all of our project countries, our aim is to set up completely autonomous teams of local doctors. This minimizes our costs per operation and ensures that competent help is always available for families affected by LKG in the event of questions or problems.

Our project in the Somalia and Ethiopia region is still under development. We have not yet had a local team here: the necessary specialist knowledge was not yet available locally. Therefore, the operations in our partner hospitals in Garowe, Somalia and Jijiga, Ethiopia were carried out by volunteers from our partner teams in Bangladesh (surgeons Dr. Masum and Dr. Zaman, anaesthetists Dr. Abedin and Dr. Arif), India (Dr. Siva Reddy, Dr. Manu Prasad, Dr. Manu Gupta and anaesthetists Dr. Manjunatha and Dr. Vasantha) and Pakistan (surgeon Dr. Ganatra with anaesthetists Dr. Alamgir and Dr. Asif), who generously donated their free time for the local cleft children.

However, the development of a local team was not lost sight of. Local surgeons were given an insight into the work of the foreign specialists during all visits on site. Two young doctors, Dr. Samater and Dr. Abdinasir, showed particular talent and interest in cleft treatment in partnership with us.

Sharing specialist knowledge – for our patients

In September, Dr. Samater flew to our experienced partner and valued friend Professor Dr. Mohammed Ashraf Ganatra in Karachi, Pakistan. Over the course of a stay of several months, he was to acquire the necessary specialist knowledge to be able to perform cleft operations on his own.

He has now successfully completed this stay and has returned to Jijiga to apply the knowledge he has learned there. The successful completion of Dr. Samater’s stay in Pakistan is an important milestone in our efforts to build an infrastructure to help cleft patients in the Horn of Africa: There is now a permanent presence of a local surgeon who can provide surgery for cleft patients. We hope to further expand this presence so that eventually, as in other DCKH project countries, a multidisciplinary team with local staff will be permanently available to provide care at Karamara Hospital in Jijiga and Somcare Hospital in Garowe.

Andrea Weiberg, CEO of DCKH, in Jijiga with surgeons Dr. Samater (left) and Dr. Abdinasir (right).
From left to right: Dr. Abdinasir, Dr. Alamgir (anaesthetist), Dr. Ulrike Lamlé, Patricia Lamlé (doctor), Ethiopian surgical assistant, Nasrullah (surgical technician), Dr. Asif (anaesthetist). Center: Prof. Ganatra.

Into the future together

Despite the very young age of our projects in Garowe and Jijiga, we have managed to take huge steps forward in project development. We owe this to our many committed partners: In Jijiga, Karamara General Hospital is the point of contact for patients even after our departure, takes care of aftercare and organizes the patient lists for further aid missions. In Garowe, Somcare Hospital fulfills the same function. Our partner organization Somcare from Heidelberg under President Ali Mohamed contributes important contacts to the officials in the region, language and cultural knowledge as well as important organizational services. Our experienced partner surgeons from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan contributed their expertise and their free time.

Thanks to these wonderful partners, our project in Somalia and Ethiopia is very well positioned as it goes into the year 2024. We thank all the great people who have helped us get this far and look forward to the future of this promising project.