Did you know that 540 babies are born each day with a cleft(lip or palate) and every 3 minutes another baby is born with the same condition. This can be upsetting because it could affect a child’s physical appearance and even their speech. Thankfully this birth defect can be fixed through surgery and a series of speech therapy.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, access to speech therapy services has been greatly disrupted but Smile Train, the world’s leading cleft charity, stands by its commitment to continue promoting comprehensive cleft care including their ability to eat, breathe, speak, basically improving children’s lives despite the challenges with the launch of its online speech therapy services.
Just recently, Smile Train Philippines launched the very first Filipino mobile speech application in the country designed for those who were born with a cleft. The Smile Train App was developed to help parents, guardians, and children in accessing speech therapy services online.
“Technology has allowed us at Smile Train to deliver the speech therapy needs of children with cleft throughout this pandemic. Safety is our foremost priority, and I am glad that this app allows us to safely serve the needs of these kids in the comfort and safety of their own homes,” said Smile Train’s South East Asia Director Kimmy Flaviano.
With kid-friendly features and lively graphics, the app leads to a wide array of educational videos and speech therapy sessions, all in Filipino. The app also serves as a platform for more patients and families affected with cleft to connect with healthcare professionals to ensure that they can continue to receive comprehensive cleft care with minimal disruptions.
“The Smile Train app also addresses a glaring gap in reaching kids with cleft. “With the app, distance is no longer a problem. Kids may start their speech therapy sessions which they otherwise would not have started without the app. Furthermore, the app encourages more Speech Pathologists to partner with Smile Train,” said Veronica Yu, a speech pathologist and the lead content creator of the app. “Partnering with Smile Train is life-changing, and I know that the Smile Train app will give many speech pathologists the fulfillment of knowing that they are making a difference in people’s lives,” Yu concluded.
Since the start of the pandemic, this charity institution’s speech telehealth program in the Philippines has treated over 200 patients, providing them with more than 1,000 cleft care-related sessions— including speech therapy, nutritional support, breastfeeding guidance for mothers of babies with clefts, pre-surgical consultations, and psychosocial care. Smile Train envisions the app to be more than just a platform for learning, seeing it as a way to bring more smiles to cleft-affected families in the Philippines.
“With or without the pandemic, digitalization of health services is definitely important as it allows patients to access health services in a more cost-effective way,” said Jeo Paz, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Nifty Hero. “This is precisely what the Smile Train speech app is trying to accomplish, providing hundreds of families with cleft access to speech therapy services at little to no cost at all, wherever they may be.”
The Smile Train App is available for download on App Store and Google Play.
For more information about Smile Train Philippines’ local efforts, make donations, and to refer a patient in need, visit smiletrain.ph/get-help. You may also follow them on Twitter and Instagram @SmileTrainPh, and Facebook at @SmileTrainPhilippines.