Awareness of cleft treatment protocols and timelines is limited in many contexts. New parents often believe that a single surgery is the only care that can help their child be fully included in community life. The traditional, fly-in-fly-out surgical model has reinforced this myth and waiting for a ‘mission’ to occur makes it less likely that a child will be treated at the right time for the best outcomes.
Through the Circle of Cleft Professionals (CoCP), Transforming Faces has helped bring together surgeons, speech therapists, oral care specialists and more in ensuring that every member of the care team reinforces the benefits of appropriate, timely, interdisciplinary care for children.
Did you know?
Children born with cleft often require multiple surgeries. This can include the initial surgery on the lip, multiple surgical interventions in cases of cleft palate, ear surgery to correct cleft-related hearing challenges, and surgery to align the nose for corrected breathing.
Surgical Care in Myanmar: A Part of the Circle
Cleft Care in Focus
Additional Supports and more
For the last 20 years, Transforming Faces has partnered locally to deliver Comprehensive Cleft Care (CCC) in Eastern Myanmar, where many families rely on medical care based in Thailand.
Throughout 2022, the border between Myanmar and Thailand remained closed. The pandemic and political instability cut families off from essential medical care, including safe cleft surgeries.
Despite the immense challenges, TF’s local partners ensured that Myanmar parents knew how to properly feed children with cleft, had the necessities to provide their child a balanced diet to prevent malnutrition, and that their children continued in speech therapy through telehealth support.
Families affected by cleft continued to receive care and thrived. But access to a medical facility where a safe surgery could be completed remained a barrier and the waiting list continued to grow.
Thanks to the support of TF’s monthly Bright Start donors, well-reputed surgical care was exceptionally arranged for 11 children in Yangon, a 1.5-hour flight away. On arrival in Yangon, families’ accommodation, transportation, surgeries, and follow up appointments were all provided, alongside the accompaniment of caring local social workers.
The children are now healthy and thriving back home, and ready for the next phase of their cleft care.
Thank you to TF staff, partners and volunteers for photos featured in this report and to Sahil Ali for additional film and photography. Visual design by Jessica Orduz.
Edited by Kristian Wykes
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