Mr Sommerlad travelled with Professor Kalam and Dr Mohammad Khan from Dhaka, first to Khulna and then to Mymensingh.

Khulna is south of Dhaka and is the third largest city in Bangladesh. Currently, there is just one surgeon, Nishat Abdullah (below left), in Khulna able to offer cleft surgery in the Khulna Specialist Hospital (below right). Currently, there is little provision for follow up care for cleft patients - no speech and language therapy or orthodontic care, both critical disciplines in the treatment of a child with cleft lip and palate. 


The proposal for Khulna is to start off by paying for a co-ordinator - an essential team member who can liaise with patients and team members and to help facilitate the appointments and treatment schedules. We are also looking at providing some essential equipment such as surgical instruments and sutures as well as some basic anaesthetic equipment. 

The Dhaka team will support these developments by sending the Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) once a month and possibly with orthodontic care too; at least until a dedicated SLT therapist and orthodontist can be employed there. 

Mymensingh is located on the bank of Brahmaputra River, about 120 km north of Dhaka. Mr Sommerlad visited the Mymensingh Medical College Hospital and met the four plastic surgeons who are able to offer surgical cleft care (pictured above, banner image). It is a large hospital with 1000 beds but whilst there are more surgeons and operating slots available, there is also great pressure of work on the Mymensingh team. A similar proposal of employing a co-ordinator first, paying for some essential surgical equipment, and providing support from the Dhaka based SLT and orthodontist, is what is thought would be the best first steps to establish comprehensive cleft care in the region.


Left: Inside the hospital, patients wait in designated areas in corridors; Right: rear view of Mymensingh Medical College Hospital.