Wow! What a week it has been here at the 12th International Congress on Cleft Lip/Palate and Related Craniofacial Anomalies! Find out what our partners are up to today!

Community Based Rehabilitation

Roopa Nagarajan, an audiologist at Sri Ramachandra University will chair Session #67 – Symposium: Developing Countries: Part I- Speech Pathology, A Voice For The Future, as well as present.

Recently, there has been an emphasis on the development of team care and early repair of clefts. A rural community based project, 200 kilometres away from the tertiary care hospital in Chennai, India, was set up for individuals with cleft lip and palate in 2005.  The objective was to provide comprehensive services including identification, follow-up, medical care, technical help and development of support groups for individuals with cleft lip and palate within in their community.

In the first phase of the project, Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) workers and local organizations were identified. Then a needs assessment was carried out. This helped to identify the individuals who would benefit with a speech correction program and also define a strategy to deliver services.

In the second phase of the project, a module was developed to deliver speech correction services at the community for individuals with cleft. Nine CBR workers were trained to provide speech correction services.

Currently, the project is in its third phase and is focused on creating links using mobile technology to improve comprehensive team care and monitor the quality of care. Over six years, 80 individuals with cleft lip and palate have received speech correction services through 9 dedicated CBR workers under close supervision of the speech language pathologists.

Speech Therapy in Ethiopia

Anders Holmefjord, a Speech Language Therapist from Norway, is engaged in training Assistant SpeechTherapists at Yekatit 12 Hospital in Addis Ababa. He will also present Capacity Building on Management of Children with Cleft Lip and Palate in Ethiopia during  Session #67 – Symposium.

The unit at Yekatit is comprised of plastic surgeons, ENT-specialist, orthodontist, speech therapist,speech therapy assistants and a team coordinator.  Members of the Cleft Lip and Palate team in Bergen, Norway, have helped train the Ethiopian team and the unit was funded by the Norwegian government (NORAD).

Speech therapy, through this program, was introduced as a new profession in Ethiopia, a country with more than 80 million people and 80 languages. This was challenging because the office needed to be equipped with the proper equipment and diagnostic speech material for two main and different languages, amharic and oromic, needed to be developped.

By the time Addis Ababa University (AAU) took over the project in 2010 and economic support from NORAD ended, several NGOs, such as Transforming Faces, had already been involved. Transforming Faces provides financial support for patients and families to attend the hospital for ongoing speech therapy.

More Speech Language Therapists and Speech Assistants need to be trained to meet demand. The PACT initiative trained nurses to become speech assistants for cleft lip and palate patients.  It is important to have a network of trained nurses in many hospitals, to spread information, counsel, and carry out therapy programs. Find out about our latest work in Ethiopia