Joining Forces to Fund South Sudan’s First Paediatric Surgeon

Joining Forces to Fund South Sudan’s First Paediatric Surgeon

In this blog, Michael Stitt, Director of Partnerships at The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, discusses the Global Surgery Foundation and a recent project the College has supported through this work.

The Global Surgery Foundation exists to build sustainable surgical capacity in communities that suffer from a chronic shortage of care. Through our work with the Foundation, we support sustainable, long-term and widespread projects.

The Foundation relies on external financial support, and funds are allocated to projects following an application process.

We recently partnered with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow to jointly fund the first year of a scholarship for the first paediatric surgeon in South Sudan through the Kids Operating Room (KidsOR) scholarship programme.

KidsOR is a fantastic example of the very reason we have the Global Surgery Foundation in place.

Ten out of 11 children live in a country lacking the dedicated surgical infrastructure required to get the care they need. Without those facilities, common and easily treatable illnesses become deadly diseases and can cause life-long disabilities.  Around the globe, hundreds of thousands of children are needlessly dying every year, with more children, dying from surgically curable conditions than HIV, Malaria and TB combined.

KidsOR provides vital services to children who may otherwise not have had access to the healthcare they need, and the programme is working towards its goal of ensuring every child has access to safe surgery.

From its bases in Edinburgh, Dundee and Nairobi, KidsOR provides surgeons and their teams with the infrastructure and training needed to transform the care available for their nation’s children. 

It puts sustainability at the heart of its goals and invests in local people, building real capacity and promoting self-reliance in the long-term. 

Over the past four years, the KidsOR team has moved quickly to put this model into practice, installing 50 operating rooms across 22 countries; creating the capacity for at least 30,000 operations each year.

KidsOR’s Africa 30 strategy is a plan to deliver 120 ORs, train 100 paediatric surgeons and 100 paediatric anaesthesia providers across the continent by the end of the decade, and the paediatric surgeon for South Sudan is part of that strategy.

Despite having a population of 11 million, over half of whom are children, South Sudan lacks a single paediatric surgeon. Tragically, one in ten children in South Sudan die before their 5th birthday, and there is a desperate lack of the infrastructure and specialists required to care for its children. 

Taking up the mantle of the country’s first paediatric surgeon is Dr Betty Arkangalo Yuggu Phillimona, who will begin training at Baylor College of Medicine in Lilongwe, Malawi under Dr. Bip Nandi, before returning to work at South Sudan’s first dedicated OR for children, within Al Saba Children’s Hospital, Juba.

Once qualified, it is estimated Dr. Phillimona will go on to perform approximately 6,000 procedures over the course of ten years (the average life-span of an OR).

These sobering figures illustrate why it’s vital our Global Surgery Foundation supports projects like this and the impact supporting the training of even one paediatric surgeon can have. We are incredibly proud to play a part in Dr. Phillimona’s journey.

You can find out more about KidsOR by visiting its website:

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