An overview of speech-language therapy services for children with cleft lip and/or palate from birth to three years within the KwaZulu-Natal health sector.
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A descriptive survey with 19 Speech-Language Therapists from public health and four from private health was used to obtain an overview of Speech-Language Therapy services for children with cleft lip and/or palate from birth to three years in the KwaZulu-Natal Health Sector. Results are presented for public health, as none of the four private based respondents worked with cleft lip and/or palate from birth to three years. The number of Speech-Language Therapists (9) working with cleft lip and/or palate (0-3 years) in KwaZulu-Natal appears not to have changed significantly over the past two to three years, similar to the incidence of cleft lip and/or palate births. Reasons for Speech-Language Therapists not working with this population included poor referrals and caseloads comprising of clients older than three years. A team approach to cleft care appears challenging but showing development. There are currently four institutions where professionals function as multidisciplinary teams, consisting mainly of Speech-Language Therapists, doctors and nurses. Speech-Language Therapists’ assessments include case history taking, oral peripheral examination, observational feeding assessment and speech-language assessment. Most therapists are consulted within a few days of the birth, which is consistent with international guidelines. Audiological assessment and assessment of resonance were mentioned by a minority of participants. Feeding devices for cleft lip and/or palate are not always available immediately, and hence appears contradictory to the National Rehabilitation Policy. Recommendations include undertaking similar research in other provinces, so as to build a nationwide overview of services for South African children with cleft lip and/or palate.