Since 2018 we have been funding a project to help cleft children in China with speech therapy. The project is based in Xi’an, capital of China’s Shaanxi province. Until a few years ago, many cleft children in the countryside were abandoned by their parents. They are now being raised in orphanages. The surgical treatment of cleft lip and palate in China has improved in the meantime, also with regard to the government assuming treatment costs. Follow-up treatment however rarely takes place.
Children from poor backgrounds in particular usually have worse access to treatments. Speech therapy is an important treatment for cleft children. Many, particularly those who only received their cleft surgeries later in their lives, have trouble speaking even after the cleft is closed with surgery. The speech therapy improves the oral motor function and articulation that are impaired by the cleft, and of course being able to speak intelligbly helps the children in their daily lives.
Like our projects in Vietnam, the project in Xi’an is a joint project with the Noordhoff Craniofacial Foundation from Taiwan. The project location is the university hospital in Xi’an. The local partner is the nationally renowned speech therapist Dr. Ma. Originally a surgeon, she has been working to help cleft children in China with speech therapy for years now.
The project in Xi’an was initiated by our volunteer project manager Dr. Ulrike Lamlé, who currently lives in Hong Kong.