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Smile Train, KidsOR Lead Solar Surgery Initiative To Reduce Carbon Footprints

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SmileTrain KidsOR

In commemoration of Earth Day, Smile Train, the world’s largest cleft charity and Scottish charity, Kids Operating Room (KidsOR) are embarking on a pioneering initiative to address the dual challenge of greenhouse gas emissions from operating theatres while prioritising pediatric surgery.

By installing solar surgery systems, the organisations aim to revolutionise access to critical surgical care while significantly reducing hospitals’ carbon footprint.

In many African hospitals, frequent power cuts pose a significant obstacle to patient care, with some facilities experiencing hundreds of hours of outages each month. Recognising the need for sustainable solutions, the vice-president and regional director for Africa, Smile Train, Mrs. Nkeiruka Obi emphasised the transformative impact of solar-powered pediatric theatres. These systems, capable of operating for up to six hours, not only enhance surgical infrastructure and access to critical care but also mitigate the environmental impact of traditional energy sources.

Obi highlighted the significant carbon emission reductions achieved through solar surgery systems, with each system saving approximately 1.5 tons of CO2 annually. By transitioning to green energy solutions, hospitals can reduce their reliance on the power grid and diesel generators, thereby safeguarding both patient care and the environment.

In 2023, KidsOR conducted a pilot study across four hospitals in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Nigeria, regions characterised by high rates of power outages. The findings revealed substantial improvements in carbon footprint reduction and operational efficiency, with an estimated 1,104.84 kilogrammes of CO2 saved during the trial period. Building on this success, Smile Train and KidsOR plan to implement solar surgery installations in 40 pediatric theatres by 2025, further advancing their shared mission of increasing capacity for safe pediatric surgery worldwide.

The collaboration between Smile Train and KidsOR underscores the transformative potential of sustainable healthcare solutions in addressing global challenges. By harnessing solar energy to power pediatric theatres, the organisations are saving lives and championing environmental stewardship. Together, they exemplify the importance of innovation, partnership and collective action in building a healthier, more sustainable future for generations to come.

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