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Celebrating the first children’s Operating Room in a refugee camp


Almost one year since we installed the first-ever children’s Operating Room in a refugee setting, we are delighted to celebrate its official 'ribbon-cutting' ceremony this week.  

The Operating Room was built at the world’s largest refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya, and has a capacity to care for up to 1,000 children every year, providing life-saving treatments that were previously unavailable in Kakuma due to the lack of necessary surgical equipment and paediatric surgeons. 

Official opening ceremony

Official opening ceremony

This installation proves that offering safe surgical care in the most challenging of settings is possible. 

KidsOR believe in a world where every child has access to surgery, regardless of where they live. A look into the workings of the Operating Room

Dr. Neema operating at Kakuma Refugee Camp

Dr. Neema operating at Kakuma Refugee Camp

Dr Neema, Paediatric surgeon, KidsOR advisory member and WEF Young Global Leader, has been instrumental in the delivery of his project. 

She has been training a surgical team in Kenya to maximise use of the OR, while leading the procedures that have taken place to date. 

“It’s hard for most of us to imagine living in a refugee camp setting, let alone the thought of our child not being able to access the surgery that could save their life or alleviate them from terrible pain. I am looking forward to finally commemorating the opening of this crucial facility and I am honoured to be able to play a part in these life-changing operations and the social and economic benefits the installation has brought to the area.”

The Operating Room is now saving children’s lives 

10-year-old Jibril Hussein Imidi was one of the first patients to receive surgery from Dr Neema and her surgical team, having suffered from a debilitating and painful hernia since birth. 

Jibril’s condition was left untreated due to the lack of specialist surgeons and facilities adapted to children, causing him severe stomach pains and digestion issues. 

After the 40-minute removal surgery finally took place, Jibril’s mother, Aziza said: “We had so many challenges before he was operated on. We could not go a week without him falling sick. The hospital became our home; we spent less time at home and more time at the hospital. 

“The operating room provided Jibril with the operation that he so desperately needed. The surgery has helped so much. He is now back at school and doing so well.”

The ceremony will see KidsOR Co-Founder Garreth Wood and Director of Africa Rosemary Mugwe meeting with Jane Ajele, Turkana County Executive Committee Member for Health, Dr. Neema Kaseje, Paediatric surgeon, KidsOR advisory member and WEF Young Global Leader, and representatives from UNHCR and IRC. 

Garreth Wood said “The new safe surgical facilities, equipment and trained medical staff in Kakuma have already had a substantial effect and we are looking forward to finally recognising this achievement. This is only the start, and we will strive to continue progressing this vital requirement not only throughout Africa but other developing countries.”

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