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The Aid Structure

Cleft Africa currently is active in four East African countries, Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. Cleft Africa is a cooperation of African and European NGOs and individuals. The common goal is to provide the best possible treatment to Africans suffering from facial cleft. Since proper treatment of cleft is an involved multistage and multidisciplinary process, Cleft Africa puts a high priority on the training of local medical personnel.

This policy has proven highly successful, with the teaching hospital of the University of Mbarara in southern Uganda now working as a fully self-contained cleft treatment center and even sending surgeons on surgical missions to Tanzania in 2017 and 2018. DCKH raises donations to fund the activities, promotes dissemination of medical training and best practices to local partners, and guarantees the quality of the operations performed as well as the proper use of the funds provided through a proprietary patient database and procedure documentation system.

Burundi

The Cleft Africa partners in Burundi are the Fondation Stamm, based in Bujumbura, and Burundikids e.V., based in Cologne. Our first surgical mission in Burundi took place in 2015. DCKH’s activities are carried out on a voluntary basis by German maxillofacial surgeons Dr Dr Oliver Blume and Gunther Au-Balbach. Alongside many other, non-cleft-related charitable activities, Fondation Stamm operates a hospital in Bujumbura, the Centre Médical Hippocrate (CMH), which serves as the home base for Cleft Africa’s training and surgical missions in Burundi. Burundikids e.V. raises donations for CMH and does organizational work for the project and the surgical missions.

Our work in Burundi is also supported by medical professionals from the DCKH partners at the teaching hospital Mbarara in Uganda including Ugandan anaestheist Dr. Emmanuel Munyarugero, surgeon Dr. Deus Twesigye, and intensive care nurse Caroline Nakyanzi.

Fondation Stamm organizes information campaigns to disseminate information about cleft and its treatment in the population. There are many harmful superstitions and false beliefs about cleft, and many families with cleft children are not aware that cleft can be treated very well, and even at no cost to them thanks to the donations raised by DCKH. Our information campaigns help ensure that more cleft children receive the treatment they need.

Fondation Stamm also maintains a contact point where cleft patients can go to receive information about the treatments available to them, as well as the hospital, the Centre Médical Hippocrate (CMH), where treatment can be performed. Furthermore, it provides the necessary logistical support for additional surgical missions from Germany organized by DCKH.

Rwanda

Dr Laurent Sibourema of the university teaching hospital Kigali works with us as a surgeon and an organizer. Among other activities he has led a team on several surgical missions to Tanzania, and, most recently, a February 2019 mission alongside Dr Dr Oliver Blume und Gunther Au-Balbach to Gitwe, Rwanda, where 15 babies in desperate need of treatment received surgeries. He is working to establish projects in additional countries in the region. A further surgical missions in Rwanda is also in planning for this year.

Tanzania

In both 2017 and 2018, the DCKH-trained Rwandan surgeon Dr. Laurent Sibourema led surgical missions to Rulenge in Northwestern Tanzania, alongside the experienced Ugandan anaesthesist Dr. Emmanuel Munyarugero. As the first solely local-partner-organized missions in the region, these missions mark an important milestone in the development of the local cleft treatment capabilities. Dr. Sibourema is working to further expand the activities.

DCKH finances a local project coordinator, Dr. Prosper Mallya, who locates untreated cleft patients for treatment and guides and supports the patients and their families throughout the treatment process. Additional valuable support is provided by bishop Severine Niwemugizi of the local Rulenge-Ngara diocese and DCKH volunteer medical project guides Dr Dr Oliver Blume and Gunther Au-Balbach.

Uganda

DCKH volunteer doctors and project leads Dr Dr Oliver Blume and Gunther Au-Balbach started working in Uganda more than 15 years ago. Since 2012 our partner, the teaching hospital of the University of Mbarara in southern Uganda, has been working as a full self-contained cleft treatment center. The hospital now provides treatment to needy patients free of charge thanks to the donations raised by DCKH. It also serves as a contact point for patient inquiries and as the base for awareness building missions and the search for untreated cleft patients that are unaware of the availability of treatment.

Today, the focus of our work is on providing specialized training to local personnel as well as using the Mbarara hospital as a base for aid missions into neighboring countries such as Burundi and Tanzania. In 2018, Ugandan anaestheist Dr. Emmanuel Munyarugero, surgeon Dr. Deus Twesigye, and intensive care nurse Caroline Nakyanzi joined a surgical mission to Burundi. In 2017, when the political situation in Burundi made cleft treatment there impossible, five patients in especially urgent need of aid were brought to Mbarara for treatment with the help of Cleft Africa Burundian partner Fondation Stamm.