On May 24, Smile Train celebrated the launch of our African Medical Advisory Council (AMAC) in Accra, Ghana. AMAC representatives include experts in plastic surgery, maxillofacial surgery, orthodontia and speech therapy from leading academic and medical institutions with a passion for helping to treat children with clefts. This regional council will support Smile Train Africa partners in policy, clinical matters, and the expansion of Smile Train Comprehensive Cleft Care programs.
“The Africa Medical Advisory Council comes into place at a crucial time in Smile Train Africa, when we are having rapid expansion of our programs into Comprehensive Cleft Care; looking at providing not just surgery, but also nutritional rehabilitation, speech therapy, orthodontics and other services.” says Dr. Esther Nyambura Njoroge, Vice President & Regional Director of Smile Train Africa. “As Smile Train Africa intensifies investment in capacity-building through education and training on the continent, this team of well-respected cleft care professionals will help advise and shape quality and sustainable training programs as well as supporting continuous quality and safety improvement in Smile Train funded cleft care programs in Africa.”
As Smile Train continues to empower partners to increase access to surgical and anesthesia care in low- and middle-income countries, the safety of patients and quality of care remains our priority. In fragmented health systems with limited staffing and funding, it can be difficult to standardize and ensure quality of care. Smile Train’s Global Medical Advisory Board (MAB), comprised of experts from various sectors of surgical, anesthesia, and comprehensive cleft care, has developed safety and quality protocol for all Smile Train partner hospitals, and they continue to guide Smile Train’s ever-evolving policies as they support partners in maintaining these standards.
While the Global Medical Advisory Board (MAB) provides support to all partners, Smile Train recognizes that local insight and expertise is critical to achieving the highest level of care — our model itself is based on the idea that the best, most sustainable care is local care. The factors that put safe, quality surgery out of reach for so many are similar across countries and regions. The prevalence of each barrier, however, as well as the most effective solutions to overcoming them, vary depending on the demographics, epidemiology, geography, income level, health spending, and cultural practices of an area. A partner hospital in Kenya might have very different needs than a partner hospital in the Philippines. Smile Train and partners rely on Regional Medical Advisory Councils like AMAC for guidance, support, and implementation on the ground.
During the May AMAC launch, Smile Train partners reviewed the role of AMAC and presented current safety and quality initiatives to the new council. Dr. Hopper, a member of the MAB, and Dr. Girum, a representative of a team from Yekatit 12 Hospital in Ethiopia, took the opportunity to present a pilot initiative that the Ethiopia team has launched to overcome the widespread challenge in assessing the quality of partner cleft palate repair. The AMAC meetings and network will serve as a forum for presenting and collaborating on initiatives like these, which will ultimately benefit not only Smile Train patients, but the entire cleft community.
As Smile Train’s partners and programs in Africa continue to grow, the AMAC will ensure that partners are empowered to provide the safe, high-quality of cleft care that every patient deserves. Their stewardship will expand access to reach even greater numbers of children — and with every surgery, we will move towards achieving a world where no child is left behind.
If you would like to help us empower local providers to ensure every child with cleft has the opportunity for a happy, healthy life, please make a gift today.