Dear TF Supporters,
2020 was shaping up to be a breakthrough year for Transforming Faces in The Before Times. Local partners were expanding the depth and breadth of their care for children and families affected by cleft, and innovative collaborations with other international cleft charities were picking-up steam.
Cancelling a year’s worth of workshops and in-person meetings due to Covid led us all to heartache, and some headaches!
Fortunately, our approach to comprehensive cleft lip and palate isn’t dependent upon international travel. Our intrepid local partners wake up each day seeking innovative ways to continue to support patients and families, even amidst intense Covid restrictions.
We know that it is a stressful time to be a parent of a child with a cleft — especially if you live in a village or neighbourhood under lockdown, or you have lost your means of earning a living.
Here is a quick sketch of how our regional partners are currently reaching out to care for children and families:
- In Ethiopia, while cleft surgeries have been postponed, TF’s local partners have implemented remote phone-based speech therapy and nutritional counselling and are providing speech therapy resources in anticipation of resuming in-person care. The recent shutdown of the entire internet because of civil unrest is definitely exacerbating an already precarious situation.
- In Uganda, surgeries have resumed in small numbers, but transportation to and from facilities remains a challenge for many families — both in terms of availability and the increased costs.
- In Thailand & Myanmar, the borders with Laos and Myanmar remain closed. Plans to resume surgical, orthodontic and dental care are underway for Thai patients and a waitlist has been implemented due to a backlog of care. Local cleft care teams continue to communicate with families by video, to provide virtual speech therapy.
- In India, surgeries had cautiously re-started but are now back on hold in some cities. Remote speech and orthodontic follow-up appointments continue with appropriate precautions in place. We recently ensured that a Covid-affected infant in Bangalore, India was treated in the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), as the family did not have means to cover the cost. He is making a good recovery, for which we are so grateful!
Across the Americas:
- In Peru, our partners are facilitating remote weekly meetings with parents to provide support and information on comprehensive cleft care treatments, as well as informing about Covid prevention measures and updates.
- In Chile, A huge spike in Covid cases has caused all cleft surgeries to be postponed; our partner continues with virtual rehabilitation programs.
- In Argentina, partners are gradually moving to presential care in the areas of dentistry and orthodontics. Virtual speech therapy and psychosocial care are taking place remotely for the safety of staff and patients.
- In Costa Rica, in-person cleft care is currently suspended, with access to psychosocial support and speech therapy online ongoing.
Even as restrictions in Canada ease, many of our focus countries are currently hard-hit by the pandemic. We are grateful for your support as we work with our partners to find solutions for children and families.
One way we are pleased to do so is in preparing to host the first ever virtual Comprehensive Cleft Care conference for cleft professionals in Low and Middle Income Countries.
We are thankful for the support of our global community and invite you to visit TF’s website and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates on our programming and cleft care services during this time.
Hugh Brewster, Executive Director, Transforming Faces