Congratulations to Jyotsna Murthy, President of the International Confederation for Cleft Lip and Palate and Related Craniofacial Anomalies, Cleft Congress 2017 and the entire Congress Committee on a successful 13th International Congress on Cleft Lip/Palate and Related Craniofacial Anomalies held in Chennai, India, February, 8-11, 2017. It provided a powerful learning and networking experience for approximately 1,000 attendees representing 60 countries.
I had the privilege of meeting Attila Vastyan, who is the leader of the team in Hungary that emerged from ACPA’s first visiting scholar, Michael Jainsch, and is celebrating the team’s 20th anniversary. I also enjoyed meeting Gareth Davies, Executive Director and founder member of the European Cleft Organization (ECO) and Nigel Mercer, ECO chair. Gareth is leading a collaborative group of international non-governmental organizations involved in providing cleft care with an aim of developing a global statement of core principles and ethics for cleft care that would be agreed upon by charity organizations, professional associations and societies, and it would eventually be ratified by global organizations such as the World Health Organization and the United Nations — establishing basic core principles in cleft care around the globe.
Working reports by various task forces were shared during sessions coordinated and overseen by Jeff Marsh, chair of all 2017 Cleft Task Forces. They included:
- Cleft Clinical Research
- Cleft without Caries
- Epidemiology, Etiology and Prevention
- Holistic Outcomes
- Global Cleft Network
The Global Cleft Network, led by Ron Hathaway, shared its findings from an international survey and recommended a global registry and interactive directory as a platform for networking. The North American leadership included Ron as well as Jeff and Marilyn Cohen who represented one of five global regions forming the 16-member International Cleft Executive Committee, which is charged with selecting the 2025 host. David Kuehn was honored with the 2017 award to deliver the Millard Oration — “Five Decades of Research Experience in Speech Anatomy and Physiology,” and I attended a number of interesting sessions on various topics including: orthodontic care, genetics and a few surgical sessions, as well as cleft outcomes that were highlighted throughout the program.
I also spent time with the 2015 Visiting Scholar Gayatri Moghe-Ghadyalpatil who is from nearby Hyderabad and learned about the Cleft Clinic she established, Tooth Buddies, upon returning from her visits with sponsors in the US.
The next International Congress will be in Edinburgh, Scotland (2021). At the 2017 Congress, Kyoto, Japan was selected as the site for the 2025 Congress, which will be hosted by the Japanese Cleft Association. Kyoto, the original capital, is known for hospitality and home of traditional Japan including tea ceremonies, heritage sites, and ryokan (traditional Japanese inns). Amazingly, the hosting Japan Cleft Palate Association already has more than 20 million yen ($200,000 USD) for scholarships to the 2025 International Congress.
I am pleased to share that there was great interest in the ACPA membership, particularly with respect to The Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal. And for me, the best part of the meeting was the opportunity to connect with our members and future members from around the world. I look forward to greeting more of you in Colorado Springs at the Broadmoor soon!
Finally, the visit provided a glimpse into a completely different culture full of vibrancy, color, spices and energy. Chennai is the fourth largest city in India with a population of 10 million. The surrounding area, Mahabalipuram, is famous for its ancient rock temples that date from the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th century. The entire experience left me in awe of the rich history, shared struggles and ongoing needs to come together – not only in providing care to those affected by cleft lip and palate, but in general. Gathering different perspectives and being open to new and different experiences is crucial — providing lifelong learning experiences and a foundation for growth and change.