Mount Kenya university in collaboration with the International Collaboration of Essential Surgery, Henry Family Advised Fund, Smile Train, the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA), and the Ministry of Health of Kenya have partnered to contribute to national health systems strengthening that identifies gaps in health service delivery and processes and identifies priorities for improvement and strengthening, with the end result being an eradication campaign to facilitate the treatment of children born with congenital defects, mothers suffering from obstructive labor complications such as obstetric fistula, and trauma victims living with home, workplace or roadside injuries that can be easily fixed, preventing lifelong disabilities.
According to co-director of the Henry Family Advised Fund Dr. Jaymie Henry , the first country-wide effort will focus on a phased approach to eliminate the backlog of approximately 7,000 clefts in Kenya, beginning with a national surgical capacity study that assessed and qualified level 4 hospitals across 47 counties in Kenya and their surgical workforce (clinicians and non-clinicians) to help deliver robust, safe and cost effective basic and comprehensive surgeries, and ensure adequate availability of surgical equipment, trained health workforces and mobile/telehealth connectivity.
Correspondingly, case detection for neglected clefts, cleft eradication, and community health worker and surgical training will be piloted in Meru County to execute proof of concept for large-scale eradication of clefts in the country that will leave behind cleft Centers of Excellence at the county level and create a fast-track referral process from the community to Level 4 hospitals to County referral hospitals for pre-operative, surgical, and post-operative care.
While giving a public lecture at Mount Kenya University main campus in Thika of Kiambu County, Dr. Henry said every day, people are dying or being disabled from medical conditions and simple injuries that can be averted with simple, one-time procedures. Of the 234 million surgical procedures performed worldwide each year, 75% of procedures benefit the richest third of our global population. This means that in some countries, the global population receives less than 4% of surgical procedures. This means that in some countries, there is limited, if any access to essential procedures that save lives and prevent life-long disabilities.
She said neglected surgical diseases (NSDs) are conditions that have a public health burden for which cost-effective interventions currently exist. They include cleft lip and palate, cataracts, clubfoot, hernia, obstetric fistula, and neglected injury
The Henry Family Advised Fund founded by Dr. Henry and her husband Orion Henry, promotes surgical interventions that save lives and prevent permanent disability and life-threatening conditions. It is a firm believer that essential surgery should – and can – be safe, accessible, and affordable to people worldwide regardless of income or geography. Essential surgery involves common and basic procedures that meet high standards of care even in limited resource settings, and require only modest infrastructure.
Dr. Jaymie said that Mount Kenya University is collaborating with the Henry Family Advised Fund in implementing a pilot program in Meru County that recruits and trains the community health workforce to identify and catalog every patient with a neglected surgical disease using an innovative mobile telehealth application, for fast-track referral to a Level 4 Hospital. For the first phase of the pilot study, every child suffering with a cleft lip and/or palate will then be referred for treatment by our partner organization, Smile Train.
She said MKU and the Henry Family Advised Fund are committed to working with Smile Train to train physicians in delivering robust, safe, and cost-effective cleft surgeries, that will result in the creation of Centers of Excellence at the county level in surgical equipment, trained health workforces, and mobile tele-health connectivity for fast-tracking patient pre-operative, surgical and post-operative care.
She said, the County Government of Meru, is dedicated and supportive of strategic partnerships to enhance the good health and comprehensive surgical care of its population to include equipping its community health extension workers and volunteers with the necessary technology via a Smartphone and any other technology as it deems fit to facilitate the eradication of neglected surgical diseases as outlined above, suffered by children born with congenital anomalies, mothers suffering from complicated labor, and the disabled suffering from trauma injuries.
The Henry Family Advised Fund and its partners; College of Surgeons of East, Central, and Southern Africa(COSECSA), Smile Train, and Mount Kenya University e-Health and Informatics Centre have signed an MOU with Meru County Government to piloting county-wide eradication of the backlog of Neglected surgical diseases (NSDs).
Neglected surgical diseases includes cases of children born with congenital deformities such as cleft lip and palate, cataracts, hernias, and clubfoot, women who have been disabled with a fistula in their noble act of giving birth as well as victims of untreated injuries because of violence, and road traffic accidents. Such victims do not have a chance to live a normal life unless they receive life-saving or disability-Preventing procedures. These conditions are prevalent, disabling, and cause profound shame and isolation, social stigma, and enormous suffering. They exist because of a lack of awareness, stigma, and inadequate funding. But these conditions are completely treatable with cost-effective solutions.
According to Henry Family Advised Fund Co-director, Orion Henry, their strategy is to identify the NSDs, map the cases to nearest level four hospital and treat the NSDs. As a baseline we have already completed a national study documenting readiness of all public level 4 hospitals to provide required safe quality services. We will utilize primary care channels, the community health workers, in the door to door identification and referral of neglected surgical patients using an innovative mobile health application. Through this, we will also encourage registration of NHIF in every individual in all county households. Once every neglected surgical disease is identified, we will utilize these cases as a resource to train our physicians, nurses, and paraprofessionals in order to further strengthen our health system and leave behind centers of excellence.
Phase one will involve elimination of the backlog of all the existing cases of cleft lips and palates and subsequently move to the next category of neglected surgical diseases. Once the backlog of neglect surgical diseases is eradicated, we will include these conditions in a basic package of interventions covered under NHIF so that every child that is subsequently born will receive life-changing treatment, every mother who needs emergency or surgical care will receive it, and that the injured will be cared for, regardless of their ability to pay.
He said the Meru County pilot eradication program is scheduled to end by December 31st 2018 after which the Government will analyze the results and lessons learned to help scaling up the same in the other 46 counties in Kenya.
The Henry Family Advised Fund and her partners have organized a side event alongside the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). The side event is titled “Eradicating Neglected Surgical Diseases: Advancing Universal Health Coverage Through Surgical Care”, to be held on Thursday September 20, 2018, 1:00-3:00pm at the UN Delegates Dining Room, 1 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017.
The Henry Family Advised Fund and its partners; COSECSA, Smile Train, and Mount Kenya University e-Health and Informatics Centre, have requested the honour of the President of the Republic of Kenya as the Guest Speaker during this event.