Smile Train has always been committed to exploring various avenues and utilizing technology through its Virtual Telehealth Program and Speech Camp to reach more patients and communities in the country. The programs received recognition from peers in the communications industry from the Public Relations Society of the Philippines (PRSP) and the Philippine Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC).
The awards received by the program underscored the dedication and commitment of the volunteers, healthcare institutions, and corporate partners of Smile Train Philippines to rally support for cleft patients so that they may still receive comprehensive cleft care even during the pandemic.
Smile Train’s Speech Telehealth Program in the Philippines has supported more than 100 patients, providing them with more than 700 cleft care-related sessions, including speech therapy, nutritional support, breastfeeding guidance for mothers of babies with clefts, pre-surgical consultations, and psychosocial care. Results made it possible for the programs to be conferred with the Silver Anvil Award at PRSP’s 56th Anvil Awards and a Merit Award at IABC’s 18th Philippines Quill Awards.
Launched in April 2020, two weeks into the lockdown, the Virtual Telehealth program is manned by volunteer speech-language pathologists. Maximizing technology and social media, the Virtual Telehealth Program made use of Facebook Live, chat applications such as Viber and Messenger, and online discussions to ensure that speech therapy classes continued virtually. More than that, the Telehealth Program managed to reach cleft patients who live in rural or isolated communities and made its services more readily available or convenient for people with limited mobility, time, or transportation options.
Smile Train believes that every child is worthy of the opportunity to live a normal life. Its pivot to providing speech therapy sessions online during such challenging times is a testament to the foundation’s agility and diligence to providing quality comprehensive cleft care to the ever-evolving needs of its beneficiaries. The program not only showcased how Smile Train was able to adapt swiftly but it also helped in highlighting the different gaps present when it comes to the assistance needed by cleft lip and palate patients.