With the aim of building a long-term presence of cleft lip and palate treatment and rehabilitation in the community, we support the development of local, multi-disciplinary medical teams. Here, we shine a spotlight on Dr. Vignesh Kailasam, an Orthodontist with our project in India

Dr. Vignesh Kailasam was one of the first staff employed at the Department of Orthodontics at Chennai’s Sri Ramachandra University (SRU) in India, which was set up in 1997. The Department has been a TF partner since 2007 and they have been successfully running and expanding the project  to provide care to rural families since then.

He attended the 12th International Cleft Congress in Orlando  and I had the pleasure of speaking to him about his role in the project.

“I was not too crazy about (specializing in) cleft, I was not too inclined because I thought at that time that orthodontics was about making money,” says Vignesh.

“Subsequently, in 2004, the cleft specialist left and I took the position – almost by accident as a stop gap arrangement. I soon realised I was being very selfish and was not giving back to the society from which I came from. Today, I am very thankful that they promoted me to that position,” he adds.

The SRU team travels each month to rural communities. “I can see the difference when the patient is treated in their own kingdom,” says Vignesh as he explains his belief in community-based care with an interesting analogy:

 “The orthodontist has a lot of influence on the end result for cleft patients,” he adds. “In the multi-disciplinary approach, the orthodontist plays the role of the spinal column and supports other areas.”