A surgical mission

Every year in January


A consultation mission

Every year in Octobre

Surgery and adapted follow-up consultations allow the children to not only survive,
but also to reintegrate socially and lead productive lives.

Most of our patients suffer from birth defects or the result of accidental injury that can be life-threatening or impose severe social isolation.

Each child has a personal electronic file including their case history, surgery and follow-up consultations over the years. This provides a high quality evaluation of the surgical result until growth is complete and the young adult can be considered cured.

Types of Surgery

  • Facial malformations (cleft lip and palate)
  • Urological malformations (hypospadias)
  • Malformations of the hands/feet (polysyndactyly)
  • Malformations of the digestive tract (esophageal, intestinal, ano-rectal)
  • Burn sequellae
  • Esophageal burns (caustic ingestion)

On average each year, we see 250 children during the consultation mission and we operate 70 children onsite during the surgical missions.

The more complex interventions, about 15 children per year, are transferred to our department for surgery in Switzerland.

Surgical Missions

This first mission takes place every year in January at the Sédo-Goho Paediatric Centre in Abomey, Benin.

It lasts 10 to 12 days and allows for consultations followed by surgical operations onsite. 

Description of the surgical mission

    • Before in Switzerland, the necessary material (30-40 boxes of antibiotic, suture material and operating room supplies, etc.)  is prepared and sent ahead to Benin.  Tdh ensures that the material clears customs and is brought from Cotonou to the hospital in Abomey.
    • Day 1: Team arrives in Cotonou (Geneva-Paris-Cotonou)
    • Day 2+3: Pre-op consultations with the surgeons and anesthesiologists, laboratory work-up performed. Between 150 and 190 children are seen.
    • Day 3-11: Surgery in two operating rooms: 70-80 children
    • Day 12: Final post-op visit of all patients with the local staff provides care program for medical staff (children remain hospitalized until well enough to return home) and the parents.
      Inventory and packing of leftover equipment to be stored for the next mission or left to the resident surgeon for post-op dressings and operations on other children he performs alone.
    • Day 13: Team returns to Lausanne


  • 3 fully trained pediatric surgeons and one chief resident
  • 1 junior resident (in training in pediatric surgery or pediatrics)
  • 2 anesthesiologists and 1 anesthetic nurse
  • 2 nurses
  • 1 occupational therapist or speech therapist and/or psychologist

Cost per mission: 20-25’000 CHF

  • Plane transport for 9 members  (1’250fr): 11’250 CHF
  • Housing: 5’400 CHF
  • Equipement: 5’000 CHF ( special humanitarian rate provided by the CHUV, Lausanne)

Consultation and long-term follow-up of operated patients

As our program expanded over the years, more and more children were brought in to be assessed for surgery. We were able to operate more thanks to the new pediatric wing, the new operating rooms and the skilled staff onsite.

It became impossible to consult and operate all the children in the 10 to 12 days  of the initial mission. 

It was decided to lead a second week-long mission in October to:

  • see new potential surgery patients (and in cases of malnutrition prepare them for safer surgery 4 months later)
  • see previously operated patients to be sure recovery was satisfactory
  • organize the transfer to the CHUV of complicated cases
  • plan the surgical mission for the following January.

Since the majority of the patients live in Benin and Togo, the week is divided between Abomey and Lomé. This week gives a precious opportunity to explain to parents the surgery and its’ impact on their childrens’ and families’ lives as well as to make sure there have been no problems in the months following surgery.

All the patients, over 2000 each, have an electronic file with their case history, surgery and follow-up, and are shared with the local caregivers. This technology, coupled with the dedicated work of the social workers of Tdh in Benin and Togo helps ensure that none of our patients are “lost to follow-up”.


  • 2 pediatric surgeons
  • 1 resident (pediatrician in training)

Cost of the mission : 5’000 CHF 

  • Transportation: 3’750 CHF
  • Housing: 1’200 CHF

Donate online

We need your support to be able to offer surgical interventions to children in need.

Help up keep the surgical missions going!

Donate to the Pediatric Surgery for Africa Fondation / Fondation Chirurgie pour l’Enfance Africaine.