In Brazil, the COVID-19 crisis and the subsequent lockdown left many children without urgently needed care. Elaine Liborio, a speech therapist at Smile Train partner Associação Beija-Flor, was determined to not let her patients with clefts fall behind in their speech therapy sessions.

Once the lockdown restricted movement for patients, the staff and board of Beija-Flor worked quickly to put together an online speech therapy program for patients. The impact on patients and parents has been far beyond her expectations – through these online sessions, children continue to grow and thrive. 

For Elaine, and for so many Smile Train partners, virtual care will continue long after the lockdown ends. “We have many patients from the countryside who have no way to come to therapy weekly and this may prove to be a viable alternative for them so that they are not left without care,” she says. “With everything we go through in our lives, we have to take advantage of opportunities and see what we can learn and reinvent ourselves. I believe that this disease can help us think about our old practices in new ways and make us even more active in helping cleft patients, who need so much support.” 

From the start of the coronavirus crisis in March 2020 through July 2020, Smile Train has supported partners to provide 10,000+ telehealth services — including speech counseling, nutritional support, pre-surgical consultations, and psychosocial care — to more than 7,500 patients.