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Pathologists to evolve model for cleft care
October 26, 2002
from The Hindu, India's national newspaper

Chennai, Oct. 25. Over the next three days, a delegation of about 200 surgeons and speech pathologists will try evolving a comprehensive community-based model for cleft care with the thrust on speech therapy in India.

"The question we are faced with is: How to make interdisciplinary care a reality?" said speech pathologist of the Loma Linda University, U.S., Linda D'Antonio, speaking at the inauguration of a three-day workshop on 'speech disorders individuals with cleft lip and palate-assessment, therapy and surgical management' at the Sri Ramachandra Medical College here today.

"One of the goals for the next three days and beyond this meeting is to identify and exchange practical ideas how on we might promote, increase and support interdisciplinary cleft care throughout India," she said.

"There are too few speech pathologists and a majority of them are in urban areas whereas many patients live in remote areas."

In collaboration with the New York based 'Smile Train', an organisation devoted to cleft deformity care, the SRMC has operated on about 1,300 people in the past two years by sensitizing and training grass roots workers like village health nurses to reach out to the patients, especially in rural areas.

"If we solve the problems here we will have a good model to take to other countries," said the medical director of the Cleft Palate and Cranio-facial Deformities Institute, St. Louis Children's Hospital, US, Jeffrey L. Marsh.

Dr. Marsh and Dr. D'Antonio are part of the Smile Train team conducting the workshop.

Another aspect highlighted was the need for increasing the awareness that cleft deformity could be repaired and near-normal speech made possible if treated early.

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