In 2012, 185 patients visited the speech therapy unit at Yekatit 12 Hospital in Addis Ababa and were provided with an assessment. From these patients, 38 received ongoing speech therapy training over the course of 517 sessions.
Mesay Gebrehanna returned to Ethiopia after obtaining her Master’s degree in Germany. She is now collaborating with Addis Ababa University to develop a speech diploma program because there are very few qualified speech therapy professionals in Ethiopia.
In Ethiopia, some communities hold traditional beliefs that birth anomalies, such as cleft lip and palate, are the result of a curse. Awareness is often lacking about the causes of cleft and feeding techniques. Hirut Mengistu, an Assistant Speech therapist at our project in Ethiopia, is in charge of intake at Yekatit 12 Hospital. Hirut gives feeding advice and counselling when mothers first visit. After sufficient weight gain, babies are then referred to the surgical team.
In 2012, outreach trips and increased awareness were two priorities for the team in Accra. Transforming Faces travelled with a small team of two nurses, a speech therapist, and a resident surgeon from Korle-Bu to Cape Coast on an outreach trip. We visited the Cape Coast region to treat identify new patients, provide assessments and speech therapy sessions. They hope to focus more on public education in order to dispel myths and help more children.
In Ghana, two surgeon-nurse pairs were trained on pre-operative evaluation, operative techniques for primary and secondary cleft repair and post-operative management of cleft patients. This training was team-based and included surgeons and nurses attending the same lectures, operating together, and participating in post-operative management.
Five nurse anesthetists from Nigeria received training in Ghana to provide safe anesthesia for children undergoing cleft repair.
Also, four assistant speech therapists were trained in Ethiopia, including two participants from Nigeria and Ghana. These assistants will be able to provide basic speech therapy assessment and treatment where there is a shortage of speech therapists.
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