Welcome to Solutions4CCC Responding to COVID

Welcome to Solutions4CCC Responding to COVID

Thank you to all applicants to the Solutions4CCC conference. The conference is now fully subscribed, having accepted 150 cleft professionals representing over 30 countries. 

After an opening plenary panel, successful applicants will participate in two consecutive Roundtable discussions. The conference will close with a short summative plenary. 

We look forward to working collaboratively to create solutions for Comprehensive Cleft Care while responding to the COVID pandemic worldwide. 

Click on the conference schedule here for a detailed description of each Roundtable listed below.

17 September 2020
8:00 am – 12:00 pm EST | 12:00 – 16:00 GMT

7:45AM EST / 11:45 GMT | Participant Check-in

8:00AM EST / 12:00 GMT | Plenary: Comprehensive Cleft Care in the Time of Covid

8:40AM EST / 12:40 GMT | Break #1

8:50AM EST / 12:50 GMT | Roundtable #1

10:10AM EST / 14:10 GMT | Break #2

10:20AM EST / 14:20 GMT | Roundtable #2

11:35AM EST / 15:35 GMT | Break #3

11:40AM EST / 15:40 GMT | Closing Plenary: Looking Back, Moving Forward

12:00PM EST / 16:00 GMT | Conference Concludes

Detailed Conference Schedule

7:45AM EST / 11:45 GMT  |  Participant Check-in

8:00 AM EST / 12:00 GMT  |  Plenary: Comprehensive Cleft Care in the Time of Covid

As cleft professionals, we strive to see every child experience full rehabilitation from the limitations of cleft lip and palate. The pandemic is extraordinarily disruptive to our procedures, plans, and our teams’ ability to care for patients and families. Within resource-constrained contexts, the barriers to effective cleft treatment can be even more stark. The global cleft community is creative, compassionate and committed — good practises and innovations are emerging and solutions will be found.


Hugh Brewster

Hugh Brewster is the Executive Director of Transforming Faces (TF). Based in Toronto Canada, TF’s mission is to promote Comprehensive Cleft Care for all through sustainable partnerships. Previously, Hugh worked with international NGOs such as World Vision and UNICEF.


Prof. Roopa Nagarajan

Prof. Roopa Nagarajan is a Professor and Chairperson at the Dept. of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences & Academic Officer, Sri Ramachandra Institute of Higher Education and Research, Chennai, India. She served as the Organizing Secretary of the 13th International Cleft Congress in 2017 and is co-author of a book chapter entitled Cleft Palate Speech in the Majority World. She is a longtime leader in both Smile Train and Transforming Faces’ CCC movements.

Dr. Sarah Hodges

Dr Sarah Hodges is a Consultant Anesthesiologist and Deputy Hospital CEO at CURE Philippines. Most of Sarah’s work is with pediatric anesthesia, with a special interest in the difficult airway. As Medical Director at CoRSU Hospital,  she led a team that included professionals providing Comprehensive Cleft Care to children and families across Uganda. 

8:40 AM EST / 12:40 GMT  |  Break #1

8:50 AM EST / 12:50 GMT  |  Roundtable #1

1A) CCC Outreach to Vulnerable Families

Reaching vulnerable families affected by cleft is a critical component of Comprehensive Cleft Care.  How do we limit the number of children being left behind amidst the growing economic constraints of COVID? How do we address the growing backlog of patients requiring cleft care, especially for families with the fewest resources? 


Dr. B. Subramaniyan

Subramaniyan (Suraj), PhD, is Associate Prof. in the Dept. of Speech Language & Hearing Sciences at SRIHER (Chennai, India), a leader of its CCC team, and a Smile Train & Transforming Faces partner.


Dr. Mekonen Eshete

Dr. Mekonen Eshete MD, PhD, FCS-ECSA is a Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon and Associate Professor of Surgery at the Addis Ababa University School of Medicine. He serves as the CCC leader at Yekatit 12 Hospital and Medical College, Ethiopia’s only full comprehensive cleft care centre. His expertise is in clinical care, research and training. Dr. Mekonen is a long-time partner of Smile Train and Transforming Faces.

Ms. Saudha Nakandha

Saudha Nakandha is a Program & Communications Officer at CoRSU Hospital where she coordinates the mobilization of patients born with cleft. Alongside the team, Saudha works to ensure families from remote areas of Uganda have access to accurate Comprehensive Cleft Care information, transportation assistance & timely treatment. Saudha holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication with a specialty in Public Relations from Makerere University.

Dr. Maria del Carmen Pamplona

Dr. Maria del Carmen Pamplona is a speech pathologist at Dr. Manuel Gea Gonzalez Hospital in Mexico & is the founder of Hablarte e Integrarte. Her organization sponsors outreach programs for cleft patients in remote areas of Mexico, including intensive speech camps. Dr. Pamplona also facilitates professional mentoring programs for speech therapists across Latin America. Dr. Pamplona holds a Doctorate in Pedagogy & has published many journal articles. 

1B) Leveraging Technology for CCC Team-Building and Patient Care

Multidisciplinary care requires effective communication between a variety of cleft professionals. During COVID, technology has helped maintain connections to our colleagues, as well as to further the care of support of families affected by cleft in new ways. 

How are cleft teams in LMIC currently keeping connected, coordinated and learning? What innovative uses of technology are proving effective in achieving patient care outcomes? What are key constraints cleft teams in LMIC are facing when it comes to technology?


Dr. Debbie Sell

Dr. Debbie Sell is a Cleft Specialist Speech and Language Therapist & Senior Research Fellow in ORCHID at Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, UK. She co-edited a book on Cleft Care in the Developing World, was a founder of a speech and language therapy training course in Sri Lanka and is a member of CLEFT – Bridging the Gap charity’s Research Steering Group. She is a founder and co-director of Speech@Home.


Dr. Usama Hamdan

Dr. Hamdan is an Otolaryngologist/Facial Plastic Surgeon with university appointments at Tufts School of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and Boston University School of Medicine. He is a well-published and respected international lecturer and holds visiting professorships at numerous institutions worldwide. He is Founder and President of Global Smile Foundation, a Boston-based non-profit foundation that provides interdisciplinary pro-bono cleft care for underserved cleft patients throughout the world.

Dr. Adeola Olusanya

Dr. Adeola A. Olusanya  is a senior lecturer and oral and maxillofacial surgeon at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. She is an active member of the Comprehensive Cleft Care Team of the University College Hospital, Ibadan and has interests in cleft speech therapy and presurgical infant orthopedics. Dr. Olusanya has been providing cleft care and conducting research on cleft anomalies for the past thirteen years.

Ms. Carolina Rivera Gutierrez

Carolina Rivera is a speech therapist at Asociacion LPH, the only CCC centre in Costa Rica. Carolina provides care to CLP patients and families and trains therapists from public schools. She holds a Bachelor degree in Speech Therapy and a Master’s degree in Palliative Care. Carolina leads speech projects supported by Deutsche Cleft Kinderhilfe e.V. and Transforming Faces. 

1C) Implementing and Monitoring COVID Risk Management Procedures

The pandemic is challenging all of our “normal” routines when it comes to delivering Comprehensive Cleft Care.  How are teams limiting the risks of exposing patients and professionals to COVID?  What processes are teams using to determine what a “safe procedure” looks like? What elements of cleft care are considered too “risky” at this stage of the pandemic in your context?


Mr. Brian Sommerlad

Mr. Brian Sommerlad is the Founder and Chairman of CLEFT charity and an honourary Consultant Plastic Surgeon at GOSH. He is a past president of both the British Association of Plastic Surgeons and the Craniofacial Society of Great Britain and Ireland. He works regularly with cleft teams in Bangladesh, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Iran, the Kurdish region of Iraq, and Uganda.


Dr. Carolina Cramaro

Dr. Carolina Cramaro is a pediatric surgeon  and founding member of Asociacion Simi Sumaq, a non-profit organization that provides CCC in Santiago del Estero, Argentina. Dr. Cramaro also teaches genetics and surgery at the National University of Santiago del Estero. She is a member of the Argentinian National Network of Congenital Anomalies (RENAC) and long-time partner of Smile Train and Transforming Faces. 

Prof. Youri Anastassov

Prof. Youri Anastassov is Head of the Plastic & Craniofacial Unit of the Medical University Hospital in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. He is also a founder of the Association for Facial Anomalies (ALA), a national cleft organization that encompasses a network for parents, speech therapists, feeding specialists, orthodontists, ENT doctors,  and an electronic medical record for patients with facial anomalies. ALA is a long-time partner of Smile Train, the European Cleft Organization and Transforming Faces.

Dr. Zipporah Gathuya

Dr Zipporah Gathuya is an internationally renowned Paediatric Anaesthesiologist. She is currently serving as a member of the Global Medical Advisory Board for Smile Train and as secretary for the Global Initiative for Children’s Surgery. Dr. Gathuya was instrumental in the setting up and running of the Paediatric Anaesthesia Fellowship at the University of Nairobi, the first of its kind in East and Central Africa.

 1D) Caring for Your Team (and Yourself!) during the Pandemic

COVID takes a significant personal and professional toll on healthcare workers worldwide. As a result, equipping teams to work effectively and collaboratively in a virtual and high-stress environment is top of mind for CCC leaders. In this Roundtable, participants will share insights and strategies for maintaining team morale, promoting multidisciplinary team-based care virtually, and prioritizing self-care during the pandemic. 


Dr. Ruben Ayala

Dr. Ruben Ayala is a physician and public health specialist from Panama. He serves as Operation Smile’s Chief Medical Officer and is the President of the Permanent Council of the Global Alliance for Surgical, Obstetric, Trauma and Anesthesia Care. He also represents Operation Smile at the World Health Organization’s Global Initiative for Emergency and Essential Surgical Care and the United Nation’s Economic and Social Council.


Dr. Jayanth B.S. 

Dr. Jayanth B.S. is a Maxillofacial Surgeon and CCC Team Leader in Bangalore, India. He also serves as the Program Director and Medical Supervisor for ABMSS – a non-profit that supports 36 charitable cleft centres across India in collaboration with German cleft charity DCKH. Dr. Jayanth has published research and presented in both national and international cleft forums.

Dr. Carmen Gloria Morovic

Dr. Carmen Gloria Morovic is a pioneering cleft surgeon in Chile and head of the plastic surgery unit at Luis Calvo Mackenna Children’s Hospital.  In addition, she is a key member of the surgery team at Fundacion Gantz and has been a CCC capacity-builder for teams nationally and beyond, and is a long-term Smile Train partner. Dr. Morovic also teaches post-doctoral plastic pediatric surgery courses and has published extensively.

Dr. Opoku Ampomah

Dr. Opoku Ware Ampomah is the director of the National Reconstructive Plastic Surgery and Burn Centre at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra, Ghana. He also serves as the Medical Director for Operation Smile Ghana. A pioneering plastic surgeon in Ghana, he graduated as the fifth plastic surgeon in the country’s history.  

10:10 AM EST / 14:10 GMT  |  Break #2

10:20 AM EST / 14:20 GMT  |  Roundtable #2

2A) A Path Forward for Safe, Timely Palate Repairs

Delayed cleft palate surgery can significantly alter the long-term treatment trajectory and health outcomes for a child born with cleft. In this Roundtable session, participants will discuss new protocols for carrying out safe palate surgeries, strategies for managing patient backlog and effective virtual/in-person approaches to pre- and post- surgery care.


Dr. Ronald Zuker

Dr. Ronald Zuker is a pediatric Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon at the Hospital for Sick Children, and Professor at the University of Toronto Department of Surgery. He was the Medical Director of the SickKids Cleft Lip and Palate Program for over a decade and Past President of the American Association of Pediatric Plastic Surgeons. He currently serves as a Board Member with Transforming Faces.


Dr. George William Galiwango

Dr. George William Galiwango is the head of the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery department at CoRSU Rehabilitation Hospital in Entebbe, Uganda. He completed his Higher Surgical Speciality Training in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery with COSECSA and serves as a mentor and clinical educator to budding plastic surgeons across Uganda. For over 10 years, Dr. Galiwango has been a Smile Train partner cleft surgeon and senior leader within CoRSU’s Comprehensive Cleft Care team.

Dr. Carla Florin

Dr. Carla Florin is a cleft surgeon at Fundacion Gantz and  head of the paediatric plastic surgery unit at Sotero del Rio Hospital. She holds a Pediatric Plastic Surgery degree from Universidad de Chile and completed a cleft fellowship at GOSH in London, UK. Dr. Florin teaches at the Faculty of Medical Science of Universidad de Santiago and is a reviewer for the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology.

Dr. Siddhartha Chatterjee

Dr. Siddhartha Chatterjee is an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon and Project Director for the CCC team at the Kolkata Cleft Centre, India. His MDS was awarded by Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, Bangalore and he completed a cleft and craniofacial surgery fellowship at Smile Train partner Mission of Mercy Hospital. He is a partner leader of ABMSS, DCKH and Transforming Faces.

 2B) Promising Approaches to Speech Therapy during COVID

Speech therapy has been redefined in the COVID era, with speech professionals forced to work in new and innovative ways. In this Roundtable, participants will explore safe, promising approaches to virtual and in-person speech therapy, including online tools, parent engagement strategies, lessons learned and key outcomes. 


Dr. Tim Bressmann, PhD

Dr. Tim Bressmann is an Associate Professor in the Department of Speech-Language Pathology at the University of Toronto. His research focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of oral-nasal balance and articulation orders in individuals with cleft lip and palate. 


Mrs. Lakshmi Godavarthi

Mrs G. Sri Lakshmi is the Project Head for Speech & CCC at ABMSS, a charity supporting 36 cleft centres across India. She is also the founder of the Visaka Speech and Hearing Center in Visakhapatnam.  In addition to CLP, her main interests are myofunctional therapy, autism, cochlear implants,  aphasia, dysphagia, sleep apnea and other speech related disorders.  

Ms. Mirta Palomares

Mirta Palomares is Fundacion Gantz’s speech unit coordinator and a speech therapist at Luis Calvo Mackenna Children’s Hospital in Santiago, Chile. Mirta teaches speech development courses at several Chilean Universities and is a member of Smile Train’s South America Advisory Board.  She is also the author of published articles about speech disorders, VPI and deletion 22 syndrome and is a reviewer for the International Journal of Otorhinolaryngology.  

Ms. Nana Akua Owusu

Nana Akua V Owusu is a speech and language therapist in Ghana, where she is a pioneering supporter in the development of the speech profession. She is the Coordinator of the University of Ghana’s MSc. programme and oversees an NGO for children with communication disabilities called AwaaWaa2. Nana Akua also co-manages the Speech and Hearing Centre, a Smile Train partner centre offering speech support and counselling to cleft clients.

2C) Resuming Safe In-Person Oral Health Care Amidst the Pandemic

Oral health professionals and patients are at a heightened risk of COVID due to exposure to respiratory aerosols. In this session, oral health care professionals will share risk mitigation strategies and new protocols for providing safe in-person NAM, dental and orthodontic treatment, as well as strategies for effective management of patient backlog. 


Dr. Marina Campodonico Frisch

Dr. Marina Campodonico trained as a pediatric dentist at the Universidad de Chile and is a member of Fundación Gantz’s multidisciplinary CCC team. She is in-demand as a conference presenter and teacher and is co-author of a chapter in the book: Tratamiento interdisciplinario de las fisuras labio palatinas.  Dr. Campodonico is a long-term partner in Transforming Faces’ capacity building work and a member of Smile Train’s South American Medical Advisory Council.


Dr. Maria del Rocio Lu

Dr. Maria del Rocio Lu is a CLP specialist orthodontist and  professor in the Department of Medicine and Oral Maxillofacial Surgery at the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia (UPCH) in Lima. She is also the head of Programa Creciendo, a pioneering CCC initiative supported by UPCH, Smile Train and Transforming Faces.  

Dr. Puneet Batra 

Dr. Batra is the Vice Principal, Professor & Head of the  Department of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, Institute of Dental Studies and Technologies in Modinagar, Uttar Pradesh. He is a Member of Smile Train India’s Advisory Council and the Dental Council of India.  He is also Consultant Cleft Orthodontist at Sant Parmanand Hospital (New Delhi), Global HRC Mt. Abu (Rajasthan), and Past President of Indian Society of Cleft Lip and Palate & Craniofacial Anomalies (2019-20).

Dr. Radost Velikova

Dr. Velikova is a Consultant Orthodontist at the Medical University Hospital in Plovdiv, Bulgaria and a member of the multidisciplinary CCC team at the Association of Facial Anomalies (ALA). She holds a PhD in Oral Medicine and has a private dental and orthodontic practice. 

 2D) Newborn Nutrition and Social Support at a Distance

COVID has disrupted the care pathway and support system in place for families newly affected by cleft lip and palate. Ensuring families feel equipped to navigate the CCC journey until regular CCC services can resume is critical to their physical and mental health. In this Roundtable, participants will share insights and strategies for effectively supporting families from a distance through nutrition assistance, counselling and psychosocial support. 


Mr. Gareth Davies

Gareth Davies co-founded the European Cleft Organization (ECO) in 2007. ECO’s focus is to provide training for patient groups and health professionals across Europe (with a focus upon Eastern Europe). Gareth chaired the technical committee of the Committee for European Standardization (CEN) that developed agreed-upon guidelines for early cleft care in 2015 and is a founding member of the World Cleft Coalition.


Ms. Phanomwan Yoodee

Ms. Phanomwan Yoodee is the Past Associate General Secretary of the YMCA of Chiangmai, Thailand and has decades of experience involving women in the development process and in promoting health care. She is currently Secretary-General of Northern Women’s Development Foundation (NWDF) in Chiang Rai, an NGO with over 20 years experience providing multidisciplinary CCC to disadvantaged children living along the northern border of Thailand, Lao PDR and Myanmar. 

Ms. Miriam Nabie 

Miriam Nabie is a Clinical Nutritionist at IcFEM Dreamland Mission Hospital, Kenya where she provides nutrition rehabilitation for various conditions including CLP. Miriam was part of the team that helped develop the Smile Train/SPOON cleft nutrition curriculum and has been instrumental in rolling it out in Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi and DRC. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Eastern Africa, Baraton. 

11:35 AM EST / 15:35 GMT  |  Break #3

11:40 AM EST / 15:40 GMT  |  Closing Plenary: Looking Back, Moving Forward

Thanks to the contributions of panelists, moderators and participants from over 30 countries, each Roundtable dialogue will engage with key challenges facing cleft professionals during this pandemic. What themes emerge? What next steps would be most fruitful? What will we learn from this unique experience of online collaboration?


Hugh Brewster

Hugh Brewster is the Executive Director of Transforming Faces (TF). Based in Toronto Canada, TF’s mission is to promote Comprehensive Cleft Care for all through sustainable partnerships. Previously, Hugh worked with international NGOs such as World Vision and UNICEF.


Dr. Felicity Mehendale

Felicity Vidya Mehendale is a Plastic, Reconstructive & Cleft Surgeon and leads the Global Cleft Research Programme, University of Edinburgh. She is Chair of Cleft 2022 and President of the International Confederation of Cleft Lip & Palate and Related Craniofacial Anomalies (ICCPCA). Her research includes applications of artificial intelligence (AI) to cleft outcomes, cleft epidemiology, perioperative and neonatal care protocols and equity of access to cleft care globally.

12:00 PM EST / 16:00 GMT  |  Conference Concludes

Presented by:

Join the Circle of Cleft Professionals

The CoCP is a worldwide network of cleft professionals and cleft charity leaders with an interest in promoting Comprehensive Cleft Care (CCC) in resource-constrained contexts.

Click to learn more.

Contact Us