The aim of Operation Childlife is to provide surgical procedures in developing countries while training the local doctors and nurses on how best to deliver effective results for themselves when we are not present. This means there is a steady transfer of skills from us to them and vice versa.
The Operation Childlife story began in Vietnam in 2004, when a number of Irish paediatric surgeons received a request from the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation (CNCF). They were asked to carry out a number of complex surgeries and to upskill and mentor paediatric doctors and nurses in Children’s Hospital Number 2, Ho Chi Minh City.
Working with Operation Childlife, Children’s Hospital No 2 has since become a centre of excellence in Vietnam:
- Our volunteers helped establish an open-heart surgical programme.
- We helped to establish their first interventional radiology programme.
- We helped to establish their first cardiac catheterization and cardiac intervention and a paediatric cardiac ICU.
- Formal training in paediatric surgical oncology is now in place.
- We assisted with the development of a paediatric pathology unit
- Six new clinical programs have been established:
- Paediatric surgery, paediatric surgery oncology, paediatric anesthesia
- Paediatric OT nursing
- Esophageal reconstruction
- Imperforate anus surgery
- Paediatric urology
- Paediatric neurosurgery
- Local medical teams have demonstrated great skills and motivation in acquiring new skills and our programme is regarded as a model of care intervention.
- Cardiac surgery is now at the complex end of the disease spectrum and between open surgery and intervention, approximately 15 – 30 patients are treated each trip.
- Approximately 13-15 oncology patients are treated on each trip.
- OCL volunteers have trained three cardiac surgeons to date.
Operation Childlife have been visiting the Muhimbili National Hospital in Tanzania since 2007 in collaboration with Their Lives Matter (TLM).
- Paediatric urology Consultant has visited 1-4 times each year for the past 15 years.
- Paediatric surgery since 2007
- Paediatric Surg Oncology since 2007
- Paediatric Consultant Orthopaedic surgeon – two visits in total 2017 and 2018
- Paediatric Radiologist two visits in 2014 and 2015
- Paediatric Infectious disease -2 visits in 2014 and 2015
- OCL has been upskilling local surgeons in safe and effective hepatectomy, radical nephrectomy and other aspects of paediatric surgical oncology.
- Through collaboration with Their Lives Matter (TLM), OCL volunteers have treated approximately 200 cases.
- Over the last 15 years through the commitment of Dr Trish Scanlan (Head of the Paediatric Oncology Ward, supported by INCTR), there has been a dramatic improvement in survival rates of children admitted to the ward, from approximately 20% up to current levels of around 65%.
A team of three clinical volunteers made the first Operation Childlife visit to The National Centre for Maternal and Child Health in Ulan Bataar, in September 2022. This trip was a collaboration with our partner charity, the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation.
The first Operation Childlife mission in partnership with the Jordanian Red Crescent took place in August 2022, when one of the Operation Childlife volunteer doctors travelled to Amman. He spent several days at the Red Crescent Hospital and also visited the Za’tarai Refugee camp, host to 80,000 Syrian refugees.