Smile Train and COSECSA Enhance Surgical Training through $1.2M Investment

Together, Smile Train and COSECSA aim to narrow the gap of 5 billion people who lack access to safe, affordable surgical and anaesthesia care

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept. 7, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — In a bid to strengthen the surgical systems in Sub-Saharan Africa, Smile Train, the world’s largest cleft charity, has amplified its partnership with the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) to invest in the education and training of 112 additional cleft and reconstructive surgeons.

Through this partnership, 12 surgeons will receive a full scholarship to a 3-year Plastic Surgery Fellowship, with four positions specifically reserved for female surgeons. The partnership will also support ten scholars to engage in an eight-month Post-Fellowship Cleft Surgery Certification program. In addition, over a five-year period, Smile Train will support sixty scholars to attend country-level Train the Trainer Surgery Workshops as well as thirty scholars to participate in a fully funded Surgical Exchange program. Smile Train will further support program management and the COSECSA examination processes.

Smile Train has continuously supported COSECSA’s training programs over the last 5 years. This increased investment is part of the organization’s commitment to scaling cleft surgical education and training.

“Smile Train led training innovation for cleft surgeons more than a decade ago when we first released our ground-breaking Cleft Surgery DVD, which has since evolved into an award-winning Virtual Surgery Simulator. We also distribute the highest-fidelity cleft simulation devices in the world through our division Simulare. We support our more than 1,100 partners with a range of education and training opportunities throughout the year. We are truly transforming the landscape of cleft treatment around the world, and in doing so transforming surgical systems,” said Dr. Esther Njoroge-Muriithi, Senior Vice President, Global Medical Programs, Smile Train.

College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA)

The partnership comes against a backdrop of increased need for qualified surgeons in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

“The COVID-19 pandemic has proven the need to have more robust surgical systems in the local communities, and through Smile Train’s unique teach a man to fish model we can help elevate surgical capacity. Together with COSECSA, we are bridging the gap for the 5 billion people who lack access to safe, affordable surgical and anaesthesia care; and will increase the number of surgeons across Africa, including those who specialize in cleft care,” noted Mrs. Nkeiruka Obi, Vice President and Regional Director, Smile Train Africa.

According to the 2015 Lancet Commission on Global Surgery, 143 million additional surgical procedures are needed in LMICs each year to save lives and prevent disability, and every year an estimated 81 million people face catastrophic financial expenditure due to costs associated with seeking surgical care. A surgical workforce crisis threatens to only heighten these global inequities, and investments in surgical workforce capacity are essential.

Prof. Godfrey Muguti, President of COSECSA, welcomed the partnership, noting Smile Train’s keen interest in empowering surgeons in the region.

“The burden of surgical care is astronomical and out of reach for many, and families gamble with fundraisers to the tunes of millions to receive better care in developed nations. Through the investment in the knowledge exchange in our MoU with Smile Train, we aim to build confidence in Africa’s surgeons, find local solutions to local challenges and administer quality, more affordable care in the local community,” noted Prof. Muguti.

Interested applicants are encouraged to review the qualifications and apply through COSECSA’s website.

Smile Train, which has active cleft care programs in 40 countries across Africa, has 245+ partners and 255+ partner hospitals across the continent. At the core of Smile Train’s model is local capacity building for the cleft ecosystem professionals including surgeons, anaesthetists, nurses, nutritionists, midwives, speech therapists and orthodontists. Through strategic partnerships at the local and international level, Smile Train dedicates itself towards quality healthcare capacity building and advocacy to increase access to safer surgeries in low- and middle-income countries.

About Smile Train:
Smile Train empowers local medical professionals with training, funding, and resources to provide free cleft surgery and comprehensive cleft care to children globally. We advance a sustainable solution and scalable global health model for cleft treatment, drastically improving children’s lives, including their ability to eat, breathe, speak, and ultimately thrive. To learn more about how Smile Train’s sustainable approach means donations have both an immediate and long-term impact, please visit

The College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) is a non-profit professional body that fosters postgraduate education in surgery and provides surgical training in the East, Central and Southern Africa region. COSECSA shapes and leads the training, examination and accreditation of surgeons in the East, Central and Southern Africa (ECSA) region. Admission to the College is open to all registered medical practitioners who comply with the professional requirements (Email:, Website: )

Media Contacts:

Emily Manjeru
Smile Train Africa
c. +254 724 926 269

Amani Pascal
c. +255 625 941 330

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