Our Work in Bulgaria

In Bulgaria, cleft isn't viewed as a public health priority, leaving resource-constrained parents with a heavy financial burden. We partner to make Comprehensive Cleft Care accessible.

A family attends our partner, ALA’s weekly multidisciplinary cleft clinic.

Cleft Care in Bulgaria Today

Beyond surgery, cleft care services are largely funded through international NGO partnerships. The Plovdiv cleft unit, where we partner locally, is Bulgaria’s main centre supporting families born with cleft.

Bulgaria has sufficient trained specialists; the major challenge has been the lack of support for families and effective referral mechanisms to prevent newborn children affected by cleft from falling through the cracks.

Until recently, many new parents of children with cleft were given the impression that they should place their baby up for adoption, as it would be the only way for them to get the care they needed. Thankfully, advocacy and community engagement have made a difference. Our partnership in Bulgaria allows families to access care without a financial burden.

Fast Facts

  • Population: 6,460,000
  • Capital: Sofia
  • Below Poverty Line: 22%
  • Cleft Incidence: 80+/ year

Key Challenges

  • community awareness-1

    Community Awareness

    Lack of awareness about cleft has historically led to children being under the care of state services. While this has improved thanks to our partner’s diligent awareness efforts, misconceptions about what cleft is and how it can be treated persist.

  • Key-Challenge-Transportation


    Ongoing and full circle cleft services are only available at one centre meaning families would have to travel long distances if it weren’t for our partner, ALA’s extensive regional network of specialists.

  • Key-Challenge-Psychosocial-Support

    Psychosocial Support

    Many of the school-aged children our partner program supports struggle with bullying and low self-esteem. Parent support groups help to combat the feelings of shame and stigma families frequently face.

Program Successes


Patients accessed 1,978 cleft care treatments or treatment interventions at our partner hospital


Speech therapists spread across Bulgaria facilitated a total of 1,124 speech assessment and therapy sessions


Orthodontic treatments were provided by our partner via their orthodontist network this year

“In Bulgaria, only surgical treatment is covered by public healthcare; everything else would otherwise be a family’s financial obligation. It is important to give a chance for optimal treatment to por families. Children need multidisciplinary, coordinated care and follow-up until adulthood.”

- Dr. Youri Anastassov, Surgeon & CCC Team Lead, Association ALA

Stories of Success

Our Partners in Cleft Care

TF has been supporting partners in Bulgaria since 2009.

Our Partnerships in Bulgaria

  • Association ALA, Plovdiv
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