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The world's first children's operating room in a refugee camp


There are currently over 26 million refugees around the world, many of whom are children. At Kids Operating Room, we believe every child should have access to safe surgery, but this isn’t always a possibility when you live in a refugee setting.

That's why we are delighted to install the world’s first children’s Operating Room in a refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya. 

The children’s Operating Room is expected to care for up to 1,000 children every year led by Kenyan Paediatric surgeon Neema Kaseje. Alongside key partners UNHCR, IRC and the Biltema Foundation, the dedicated OR will also scale the paediatric surgical care in Kakuma through the training of junior doctors. 

We have shipped and delivered more than 3000 components to create this specialised Operating Room within the Kakuma General Hospital. The instalment comes after multiple delays and supply chain interruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the infamous traffic jam at the Suez Canal.

I’m proud of the efforts of our teams, in the UK and Africa, for pulling together and making this incredible feat a reality – and I’m delighted that Neema is able to start work so quickly to meet the surgical needs of children within the camp.

Garreth Wood, Co-founder of KidsOR

New possibilities for children

The first surgeries undertaken within the newly installed Operating Room were on six-year-old and 10- year-old boys, both of whom were suffering from inguinal hernias.

Performed by Dr Neema Kaseye and her surgical team, the repair to the hernia took 40 minutes, which, if left untreated would have continued to cause both boys severe stomach pain and digestion issues. The surgery was previously unavailable in Kakuma as the hospital did not have the necessary operating facilities or paediatric surgeons to perform the procedure.

It's a day of joy! We have been waiting for this day for a long time! For us at Biltema Foundation, the protection of children's health is important. And through Kids Operating Room, we are now making a difference for the most vulnerable children every day!

Louise Wennberg, chairman of Biltema Foundation

An introduction to Kakuma Refugee Camp

Kakuma Refugee Camp is the world’s largest and most established refugee camp in the world. It is home to 188,000 people. 

Originally set up for people who were forced to flee conflict in Sudan, Kakuma is now home to people from 22 nationalities including South Sudan, Somali, DR Congo and Ethiopia. 

Out of its population, over 40,000 children live in Kakuma refugee camp. Many of these children had limited or no access to appropriate surgical care, which puts them at risk of dying from treatable conditions like appendicitis or subject to a lifetime of disability from a broken ankle.

Where next?

KidsOR plans to transform paediatric surgery in Kenya, the Kakuma project will set the groundwork to build capacity for nine additional children’s Operating Room in the coming years.

By 2030, we aim to have installed 120 dedicated children’s Operating Room across Africa, providing essential surgery to over 635,000 children and saving thousands of lives (read our Africa 2030 plan).  

With your support, we can save thousands more children. By supporting Kids OR you’ll be giving children greater access to surgery that could save their life or prevent a lifetime of disability. Donate today.


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