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Smile Train partners Nairobi University to Offer 20 scholarships in plastic surgery

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By Gideon Arinze



Smile Train, the world’s largest cleft-focused organization has announced that it is partnering with the University of Nairobi, through its Department of Surgery to offer full scholarships to medical residents based in Africa to study plastic and reconstructive surgery.

The scholarship program will support a total of 20 resident doctors each of whom will receive $19,000 – $22,750 per year over the next five years.


Latest research indicates that 5 billion people lack access to safe, affordable surgical and anesthesia care, with surgical conditions accounting for 35 per cent of the global burden of disease. Out of this figure, 1.7 billion of them are children.

The ‘Smile Train-UoN Scholarship Program’ is however expected to provide funding to support four scholars each year. While two of these schools are in Kenya, two are in other countries within Africa.



Apart from covering the full cost of tuition and a living stipend, Smile Train’s Senior Vice –President of Global Medical Programs, Dr. Esther Njoroge-Muriithi said that one of the most critical outcomes of this partnership will be increasing the number of qualified surgeons able to provide safe, timely and quality surgery not only to children with clefts but also individuals with other neglected surgical conditions in underserved communities.



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While noting that qualified resident doctors are encouraged to apply through the University of Nairobi, she explained that the partnership will also support research on cleft lip and palate, which is critical to evidence-based policy development.

“The scholarship will be administered through the Department of Surgery led by its Chair, Dr. J. Kiboi, and supported by Leading Professor of Plastic Surgery Prof. S. Khainga, Program Director of the Plastic Surgery Thematic Unit Prof. F. Nangole, and faculty at the Plastic Surgery Thematic Unit Dr. A. Muoki and Dr. K. Wanjeri” she explained.


In his reaction, University of Nairobi Vice-Chancellor Prof. Stephen Kiama expressed delight at Smile Train’s investment in strengthening surgical systems, expressing the University’s commitment to working with Smile Train to increase access to quality care through the education and training of surgeons.

He noted that the University of Nairobi is ranked among the top ten universities in Africa and is uniquely positioned to support, increasing the surgical workforce in the region.

“Our support to patients will involve taking cleft surgical services to our local communities as part of giving our scholars an opportunity to connect with and deliver positive impact in the community,” noted Prof. Kiama.


Smile Train has active cleft care programs in 40 countries across Africa with more than 245 partners and over 255 partner hospitals across the continent.

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