Operation Smile South Africa places an emphasis on providing training and educational opportunities to both its volunteers and rural health care providers in order to build capacity and create self-sustainable systems. In South Africa, Operation Smile South Africa has provided Basic Life Support (BLS) and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) training to doctors and nurses from Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, George, Oudtshoorn, and Empangeni, in addition to hands-on training and educational lectures during medical missions. We have also conducted BLS training in the Eastern Cape, Oudtshoorn, Swaziland, Madagascar, Rwanda, the DRC, Lesotho and Namibia. In 2011 OSSA plans to hold its first “Training BLS Trainers” program where we are able to accredit a few in-country BLS trainers, donate the necessary training equipment, and oversee an in-country BLS Training Centre that can continue to run and train hospital staff without relying on the physical presence of OSSA or volunteers. This will go a long way in creating a sustainable model of healthcare education.
In 2010, OSSA ran its first Obturator Clinic in Swaziland. Professional OSSA dental volunteers travelled to Mbabane to instruct 15 local dentists on the intricacies of making, fitting, adjusting and maintaining obturators for older cleft palate patients. This training is now incorporated in all OSSA missions.
Operation Smile South Africa has also sponsored doctors from South African, Swaziland and Madagascar to attend Operation Smile’s annual Physicians Training Program (PTP) in Norfolk, USA, a two-week intensive craniofacial and cleft conference with more than 70 doctors from more than 25 countries participating.
Operation Smile South Africa sponsors educational opportunities, such as participation in conferences and workshops around the world, as these opportunities help medical professionals gain knowledge and create networks that inevitably help improve the health care systems in Southern Africa.