As the global pandemic approaches its third year, there is no denying that COVID-19 has been everyone’s paramount health concern.
However, as many continue to live with the pandemic, Smile Train recognizes that children born with a cleft lip and/or palate still face serious health implications from this condition.
The challenges posed by the pandemic have pushed Smile Train to become even more focused and persistent in its work. It was able to provide 2,500 cleft surgeries in 2021 – at least 750 more than in the previous year.
By leveraging technology to ensure access to much-needed services, Smile Train also enabled more medical professionals to offer telehealth consultations and speech therapy sessions.
“Throughout last year, we wanted our beneficiaries to know that Smile Train services are ongoing and have never stopped. We want our patients to know that hope is not lost. While we stay at home for everyone’s safety, Smile Train worked hard to innovate and create programs to reach more Filipinos in need,” said Kimmy Coseteng-Flaviano, Smile Train Vice President for South East Asia.
For many Filipinos, the pandemic caused a temporary disruption to their lives due to mobility restrictions. However, through the first Filipino Speech Therapy App developed by Smile Train and its Speech Telehealth Program, patients can continue to receive their treatment and guidance from healthcare professionals in the comfort and safety of their homes.
The Speech Therapy App is a free mobile application, designed to help patients who have received surgery for their cleft palate. Since its launch in 2021, the application has reached an audience of 50,053 Filipinos for continued treatment and services. The app also features a wide array of educational videos and speech therapy sessions in Filipino, with features and content for young patients. The application is available for download on the App Store and Google Play.
On the other hand, Smile Train’s Telehealth program connects patients and guardians to healthcare practitioners for consultations, health education, and assessments via WhatsApp, Skype, and Zoom, on any device. This program has provided patients with more than 2,000 cleft care-related sessions, covering speech therapy, nutritional support, breastfeeding guidance for mothers of babies with clefts, pre-surgical consultations, and psychosocial care.
Aside from continued treatment for current patients, Smile Train endeavors to reach more cleft-affected individuals and their families in need. In the first quarter of 2021, the charity launched Cleft Con Philippines, the first-of-its-kind conference, streamed through Smile Train Philippines’ official Facebook page. Cleft Con was a series of discussions from experts who discussed various aspects of cleft care, such as breastfeeding babies with a cleft, oral hygiene tips, surgery, the importance of speech therapy and building one’s self-confidence.
For more information about Smile Train’s global efforts and to donate, please visit smiletrain.org. To learn more about Smile Train’s local programs in the Philippines, please visit smiletrain.ph, follow Smile Train Philippines on Instagram @SmileTrainPh, and like us on Facebook at @SmileTrainPhilippines.