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A Scottish charity gone global :: Kids OR

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A member blog post by

Garreth Wood

Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board, Kids OR

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At Kids Operating Room, we believe in a world where every child has equal access to safe surgery, yet currently a shocking 1.75 billion children don’t have access to surgery worldwide.

In fact, more children die every year from surgically treatable injuries than from malaria, HIV and TB combined. This is especially true for low- and middle- income countries.

How are we letting children who break an arm live a life of disability? Why are newborns who need a simple procedure in the first hours of life not surviving?

Our vision is for a world where every child is treated equally. Our mission is to support local doctors through the provision of training and infrastructure to ensure they can use their talents to care for their nation’s children.

Article image: Kids OR operating room in Menelik II Hospital, Ethiopia 

Putting life-saving tools in lifesaving hands

Working with Ministries of Health, hospitals and local surgical teams, we transform Operating Rooms or unused spaces in hospitals in low- and middle-income countries into dedicated spaces for children’s surgery and provide them with the specialist equipment they need.

But we don’t stop there, we also have a team of experts who will help the local teams set up and commission the medical equipment as well as offer ongoing support.

We put the child at the heart of this, designing the ORs to be child friendly. The bright and colourful designs, based on local flora and fauna, are designed to reduce stress in children and their families.

Training the next generation

A shortfall of 18 million health workers is estimated by 2030, mostly in low and low-middle income countries.

There’s no point in installing and equipping paediatric operating theatres if there’s no paediatric surgical specialists to work in them. That’s why, in Africa, we work with local colleges of surgeons to award scholarships for the training of the next generation of paediatric surgeons. In some instances, such as South Sudan, we are training the first ever paedatric surgeons in that country.

Through the provision of our surgical training scholarships, we will build capacity within countries meaning more children have the chance to grow up happy and healthy.

Walking the talk: measuring our impact

A core part of our mission is to produce the evidence desperately needed to show that the impact of investing in children’s surgery strengthen’s healthcare systems and national economies.

We employ local data collectors within each hospital which we have installed an Operating Room to record key data about operations and their outcomes, as well as the impact on children and their families. Analysing and reporting this data is vital to supporting local surgical teams, sustaining political

will, and showing the real cost, and benefit, of saving a child’s life, of preventing a life of pain and disability, and of transforming children’s futures.

Speaking up

More than 22 billion dollars is spent every year in health aid, yet at least half the world’s population currently lacks access to essential health services. This is especially relevant since 30% of the global burden of disease can be treated with surgery.

So why is surgery often overlooked? And why are children dying needlessly of surgically treatable conditions?

KidsOR will advocate on the global plight of children denied access to safe surgery. No child should die of a tragically treatable condition.

As of 2021, we have installed 50 dedicated children’s Operating Room across Africa and Latin America, creating an annual capacity for 30,000 children’s operations. But there’s much more work to be done until every child has equal access to surgery. Our Africa 2030 strategy intends to deliver 120 Operating Rooms, train 100 surgeons and 100 anaesthesia providers by the end of the decade.

Follow our journey at

Cover image: Surgeons post-op at Kamuzu Hospital, Malawi

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