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In November 2004, the Dutch Noma Foundation sent its first surgical team to the Yakatat 12 Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to do facial reconstructive surgery on Noma patients.

This became an annual team visit and was funded by Facing Africa.

In October 2007, Facing Africa put together an all-British team of surgeons, anaesthetists and nurses who spent two weeks carrying out a variety of facial reconstructive operations in Addis Ababa. A second Facing Africa surgical team went to Ethiopia again in Oct 2008  and 2009. Since 2010, Facing Africa has sent two teams every year, usually in Feb and Oct which are made up of volunteers from the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Holland. Since 2010, all surgical missions operate at the MCM Korean Hospital in Addis (www.mcmet.org).

Cheshire Home – Ethiopia

In March 2009 Chris & Terry  Lawrence spent a week in Ethiopia looking for a suitable facility in or near Addis Ababa where noma patients could be cared for 2 weeks prior to their operations and then followed by a further 4 – 6 weeks post operative wound care until they were completely free of any complications or infections. Prior to this, patients were brought to Addis from their villages 2 or 3 days before surgery and then sent home a few days after their operations. Needless to say this resulted in an unacceptable level of infections due to poor hygiene and post op’ wound care. It was agreed with the management of Cheshire Homes in Ethiopia that Facing Africa would use the existing facilities which had historically been used almost entirely for polio victims (www.cheshireservicesethiopia.org). Our first intake of noma patients shared dormitories, dining facilities and the beautiful 30-hectare grounds at the Cheshire Homes in a village called Menagesha about 15 miles from the centre of Addis.

 

Facing Africa House at Menagesha

Facing Africa House at Menagesha

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It soon became evident that with increasing numbers of noma patients needing pre and post op’ care, Facing Africa would have to build and fund its own dormitories, wash rooms, dining and recreation room and small clinic at the Cheshire Home. On 6th Oct 2010, the British Ambassador to Ethiopia officially opened the first phase of “Facing Africa House”. The second phase with a further 20 beds was opened in Oct 2012. Facing Africa sends a doctor and 2 experienced wound care nurses to the Cheshire Home for 8 weeks to cover the pre and post op’ care of the patients.

However, in spite of the fact that large numbers of Noma victims exist in Ethiopia, it is difficult to locate these tragic victims in remote areas of Ethiopia as their parents are still reluctant to bring their afflicted children forward when search teams scour the countryside and remote villages. We therefore depend on our small staff in Ethiopia to source patients through visits to remote areas, other charities with outreach facilities, hospitals who refer patients to Facing Africa, word of mouth, local radio and TV.

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