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New cleft treatment project in Somalia

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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.

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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.

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The Somcare Hospital and DCKH Cleft Center
Opening ceremony of the new hospital in Garowe
Mohamed Ali, president of Somcare, speaking at the opening ceremony.
Patients waiting to be registered and examined.
Two of the 55 patients treated during the mission: Siblings Abdullah (3) und Nasra (4).
Abdullah after his surgery.
Dr. Manu Prasad and Dr. Ulrike Lamlé discuss surgery technique.
Surgeries are scheduled.
Dr. Ulrike Lamlé und Dr. Manu Prasad checking on patients after surgery.
Local anaesthetist Ayanle in discussion with Dr. Vasantha.
Anaesthesia for infants requires particular care and caution.
Our international team celebrates a successful mission.
Presenting our work to the Somali television: Dr. Manu Prasad; Dr. Ulrike Lamlé; the health minister of Puntland; Ali, president of Somcare (left to right)
Muyeen Pasha hands over a highly welcome donation of material from India to Ali.
Dr. Ulrike Lamlé with our Indian doctors (left to right: Dr. Siva Reddy, Dr. Manu Prasad, Dr Manjunatha, Dr. Vasantha, Dr. Manu Gupta)
Dr. Elmi with Dr. Ulrike Lamlé
A happy family after successful surgery.
From our projects
The story of Maui, cleft child from Colombia
Our new project to help children with cleft lip and palate in Colombia begins with a very unusual case. Maui was born with a cleft lip and palate. His parents belong to an indigenous people and do not know how to get him the help he needs. By a happy coincidence, Julia, a Swiss woman living in Colombia, is a neighbor of the family and offers to help. In search of treatment options, she comes across Deutsche Cleft Kinderhilfe.
Video: Impressions from Bolivia
The parents of our cleft children are always full of gratitude. When their child is born with cleft, they often do not know what to make of the malformation, much less that it can be treated. And even if they do - most of our little patients come from the poorest of backgrounds. Their parents could never afford the operation. It is an unimaginable happiness for them to learn that their children can receive qualified treatment, and free of charge even. This wonderful, touching film from our Bolivian aid project captures these special moments of happiness.
Video: Impressions from Pakistan
This film, made for our Pakistani partner organization, the Al-Mustafa Welfare Societey, by the father of one of our patients, shows scenes from our work in Karachi. From here, our senior surgeon Prof. Ashraf Ganatra treats cleft children from poorest families. He operates the children from Karachi at the Al Mustafa Medical Center. In order to reach the many needy families living outside the city, he also regularly heads out to local provincial hospitals to treat cleft patients there.