From 2008 to 2011, Transforming Faces partnered with the European Cleft Organisation (ECO) in Eastern Europe and funded programs that educated health professionals, created awareness of cleft care options and provided support to families. Following a successful seed funding strategy, European Cleft Organisation (ECO) was able to tap into funding from within Europe. We are pleased to report that there have been some great developments!

Approximately one in seven hundred children throughout Europe are born with cleft lip and/or cleft lip and palate. Access to good treatment, however, varies enormously throughout Europe and some babies with clefts are still abandoned in some countries in Europe.

According to a statement which appeared on PRNewswire: “Up to 40% of parents of babies born with cleft lip/palate in Bulgaria are told to place their child in institutions, through lack of understanding of the straightforward care (such as simple feeding techniques) required during the first months of life.” 

With this in mind, they set out to create European guidelines to try to and address the huge inequality in cleft care across Europe. They have been working with the European Standards Agency (CEN) in Brussels and have been given the opportunity to establish a Project Committee through CEN which will allow them to create a Technical Report containing a set of guidelines.

Bulgarian plastic surgeon Professor Youri Anastassov, a spokesperson for ECO, says: “This is a great opportunity to get cleft lip and palate on the health agenda throughout Europe. The development of a standard should reduce the number of children abandoned because they are born with a cleft. The framework could become a model for other conditions, not just in Europe, but across the globe.”

The guidelines will support babies born with cleft lip and palate and their families and will serve as a model in the absence of a national protocol. The process kicked off with a meeting in Vienna on September 4-5, 2013. Delegates from Bulgaria, Austria, Lithuania, Estonia, Romania, Slovakia, Belgium, Finland and the UK attended the meeting. For more information, check out ECO’s website

For some more detailed background about the new guidelines, click here