New cleft treatment project in Somalia

In cooperation with the Somali organization Somalia Medical Care e.V. (Somcare), we are building up a cleft center in Garowe. Garowe, with around 400,000 inhabitants, is the political and economic capital of the Puntland region of Somalia. The city is bustling with activity. Large buildings housing government, banks and international aid organizations line the streets alongside hotels, restaurants and countless small kiosks. 

The newly built hospital, the Somcare Hospital and DCKH Cleft Center, is intended to act as a contact point for cleft children from the entire Somali-speaking area. The hospital building, co-funded by us, was completed in late 2021, laying the foundation for this new part of our cleft treatment efforts in East Africa.

First 55 patients operated successfully

On March 23, 2022, the Somcare Hospital and DCKH Cleft Center was officially opened. It was inagurated with our first cleft treatment mission in Somalia. One main focus was on inspecting the new hospital and putting it into operation and on training the Somali surgeon Dr. Elmi and the anesthetist Ayanle to become a local cleft treatment team.

The mission was only possible thanks to a large international team. Three surgeons (Dr. Siva Reddy, Dr. Manu Prasad, Dr. Manu Gupta), two anesthesiologists (Dr. Manjunatha, Dr. Vasantha) and Muyeen Pasha, who organized the administrative work including the patient documentation, joined the effort from India. The Freiburg DCKH team was represented by Philip Hehn. The mission was led by the German DCKH volunteer surgeon Dr. Ulrike Lamlé. Mohamed Ali, the president of Somcare, ensured that everything ran smoothly on site.

Scores of cleft patients from near and far await our team. They all have to be registered and examined first: to ensure safe surgeries, only those who are really healthy can be scheduled for surgery. Several patients’ surgeries have to be postponed due to low hemoglobin levels.

Our teams worked at two operating tables for five days. The final tally is 55 operations provided to cleft patients – a wonderful result. We thank every participant for their commitment. We would also like to thank Tom and Kris Schneider for financially supporting the construction of the hospital and the Eva Mayr-Stihl Foundation for the substantial contribution towards the procurement of the medical equipment.

A further cleft surgery mission in the Somali settlement region, this time to Jijiga in the Somali Regional State in neighboring Ethiopia, is planned for later this year. And we will return to Garowe soon as well: more patients have already registered their interest.