MINERVA BC NEWMAN
CEBU CITY— Smile Train’s Speech Therapy App that it developed and launched under its Speech Telehealth Program in 2021 has now helped 50,053 cleft palate patients who have received surgery for their continued treatment and services in the Philippines.
Smile Train recognizes that children born with a cleft lip and/or palate still faces serious health implications from this condition. This pushed the organization to be even more focused in its approaches for healthcare services delivery to cleft patients.
Kimmy Coseteng-Flaviano, Smile Train Vice President, South East Asia said, throughout last year, Smite Train wanted its 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,” Flaviano said.
Flaviano added that Smile Train was able to provide 2,500 cleft surgeries in 2021, 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.
For many Filipinos, the pandemic caused a temporary disruption to their lives due to mobility restrictions. However, through the first Filipino Speech Therapy App, patients can continue to receive their treatment and guidance from healthcare professionals in the comfort and safety of their homes.
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.
Smile Train’s Telehealth program, according to Flaviano has connected 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, Flaviano bared.
With the successful launch of Cleft Con Philippines, the charity, in partnership with RMN Foundation and Radio Mindanao Network, launched Cleft Con Radio, a series of discussions covering comprehensive cleft care that aired in Metro Manila, Cebu, Davao, and Cagayan de Oro.
Another milestone for Smile Train is the launch of its first Comprehensive Cleft Center in Cebu. Located at ARC Hospital in Lapu-Lapu City, the center aims to make cleft care services more accessible to individuals and families in the region.
While the charity organization expanded its reach and services, Smile Train Philippines also continues to support medical professionals involved in providing cleft care by offering them education and training opportunities for developing their skills further and exchanging best practices with other experts around the world.
“We’re coming into 2022 with the determination to help more people in need. Despite the challenges of the current times, Smile Train continues to innovate and improve access to comprehensive cleft care for the tens and thousands of Filipinos depending on us,” said Flaviano.