A note from Esteban Lasso, TF’s Executive Director, who recently visited our Thai project in February 2013 and attended the latest speech camp.
Our partnership with Northern Women Development Foundation (NWDF) is one of the oldest and it is fast becoming a blueprint of project sustainability and local ownership. Our partner has created links with private and public hospitals, universities, foreign government officials, grass roots organizations and cleft specialists.
NWDF has successfully implemented Speech Camps to tackle the problem of what to do in rural areas where speech pathologists are not available.
Dental stations have been added to the speech camps so that children can learn about the importance of oral care, healthy eating and brushing techniques. Videos, intra-oral scope sessions and dental assessments were available to show children and parents how important it is to maintain healthy teeth. The dental camps were conducted in both Thailand and but also in Laos.
Northern Women Development Foundation (NWDF) has facilitated surgery coordination among Thai and Laotian institutions, specifically with Borkeo Provincial Hospital where the Hospital Director and staff welcome TF’s assistance.
The hospital looks after 35,000 out-patients and 6,000 in-patients on an annual basis. 30% of patients are children. Most of the children under 5 years of age suffer from respiratory illnesses and gastrointestinal infections. So among the complexities and limitations of offering health care to a poor and vulnerable population, cleft lip and palate is a minor concern. We hope that our support, through NWDF, will allow for an increase in the treatment of cleft lip and palate cases. We also hope that many more patients, who currently travel to Thailand to receive care, will be able to access care closer to home.
As part of our comprehensive approach and capacity building, we are currently focused on training dental staff on the importance of oral health for cleft patients. We are also assisting nurses with feeding techniques for cleft lip and palate patients. This knowledge will have a spin off effect and help other non-cleft patients.
In Laos, the oral health conditions of children are generally worse due to the limited human and financial resources available. The encouraging thing was that 15 kids from Laos who already had their cleft repaired CAME BACK for dental camp. That was an accomplishment that was awesome to see!