Dr. Amanda Nang’andu Malungo, a Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeon has shattered the glass ceiling to become the first female plastic surgeon in Zambia following her successful double qualification; Masters in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and the Smile Train-COSECSA Fellowship program.
Dr. Nang’andu has chosen to dedicate her career to treating cleft lip and cleft palate, a congenital malformation in which patients experience difficulty breathing, eating, speaking and hearing, some of whom die before their first birthday. Many patients living with untreated cleft lip and/or palate are stigmatized and isolated. Dr. Nang’andu attained her Fellowship from the University of Nairobi in Kenya after receiving full scholarship from Smile Train, the world’s largest cleft charity.
“I was Introduced to clefts during undergraduate training and got involved in active cleft surgery during my specialist training. I was particularly touched by a young woman who was abandoned by her husband and family because she had a history of cleft lip, and later, birthed a child with a cleft. In most African cultures, people still face discrimination because of cleft lip and palate,” she noted.
An estimated 1.7 billion children lack access to safe surgical care according to the Global Surgery Foundation. To empower women in surgery, Smile Train has partnered with the College of Surgeons of East and Southern Africa (COSECSA) on a 5- year program in which 4 female surgeons receive full scholarship to specialize in essential reconstructive surgery. Smile Train Vice-President and Regional Director for Africa Dr. Esther Njoroge-Muriithi added that the charity invests in training of medical professionals to enable them to provide free, safe and quality treatment in their local communities.
“The value of women in surgery to healthcare systems and communities at large cannot be understated. We are committed to offering a full scholarship to four female plastic surgeons every year over the next five years, and 10 surgeons in total. We have plugged in an investment worth $500,000to encourage more women to become surgeons even as they provide quality cleft treatment closer to their communities,” noted Dr. Njoroge-Muriithi.
The 36-year-old surgeon and mother of four pursued her undergraduate studies in medicine at the University of Zambia (BscHB, MbChB). She worked as a general practitioner at Kafue General Hospital where she also served as a Medical Superintendent for a year. In 2015, she specialized in plastic surgery at the University of Nairobi.
Smile Train has been actively supporting programs in Africa since 2002. In that time, the organization has developed local partnerships with more than 245 partner hospitals and 255+ medical partners in 40 countries throughout Africa to provide free cleft treatment. To date, Smile Train’s local medical partners have provided more than 120,000 life-changing cleft surgeries across Africa. The charity goes the extra mile to train the cleft ecosystem of medical professionals including cleft surgeons, anesthetists, nurses, nutritionists, speech therapists, orthodontists and community health volunteers.