Two Speech & Language therapists from Great Ormond Street Hospital travelled to Bangladesh this January to provide ongoing training to colleague Fairooz Maliha, who works in the Sheikh Hasina National Institute for Burns & Plastic Surgery (SHNIBPS), and to deliver some training workshops to other students. Marie Pinkstone is a trustee of CLEFT and is also the Lead Speech and Language Therapist for the North Thames Cleft Service. Amy Darters is a Speech and Language Therapist specialising in complex speech problems. Between them, Marie and Amy share many years of experience of working with children born with cleft lip/ palate and associated conditions as well as a desire to share their knowledge and skills with colleagues around the world.

Marie and Amy’s time in Bangladesh began with a day spent assessing patients in the very busy multidisciplinary clinic at the SHNIBPS, followed by a day with Fairooz treating patients. Pictured left, Amy assesses the speech of a young girl. The multidisciplinary clinics are designed for the specialties to meet together with the patient at the centre so that all the patient’s needs can be assessed in one meeting and a treatment plan can be created. This also gives the clinicians an opportunity to discuss any potential issues and prioritise the order of treatments required.

During their visit, time with Fairooz was spent working through the standardised assessment process and other specific skills required in delivering effective speech therapy. Fairooz has been working at the SHNIBPS for over a year now and she works tirelessly to see as many patients as possible. She is a very committed member of the team and a great asset.


Left: Marie and Fairooz working through the assessment protocol. Centre: Fairooz Maliha. Right: Amy explains to Fairooz some techniques for working with children born with cleft.

Marie and Amy were invited to contribute to the first International Cleft Speech Conference at Dhaka University by Tawhida Jahan (pictured above, banner image), Chair of the Department of Communication Disorders at the University. This one day conference brought together Speech and Language Therapy students and the visiting team from the UK and the SHNIBPS.

Students from the University of Dhaka pictured with Fairooz Maliha (second from left), Marie Pinkstone                  (centre left) and Amy Darters (centre right).

In addition to their day of lectures at the University, Marie and Amy delivered a three day workshop in collaboration with the team at SHNIBPS, focusing on many aspects of speech and language therapy for those affected by cleft. They shared ideas and knowledge including the development of an assessment tool for the Bangla language.

Speech assessments in the UK are carried out using a protocol developed at Great Ormond Street. The idea of the protocol is to standardise the assessment of speech in all speech and language centres. The assessment involves a sentence repition task using a picture book. Each sentence works through the different sounds used in the English language. The form that is used to note the child’s sounds and the picture book were of much interest to the students that attended Marie and Amy’s workshops as this system for assessing speech is not currently used in Bangladesh.

The picture book and assessment form will be adapted by Fairooz and Masters students from the University of Dhaka so that the pictures are more culturally appropriate for Bangladeshi patients and so that the sentences reflect Bangla sounds, eg. the ‘z’ sound in English does not occur in Bangla. This new assessment protocol in Bangla will be trialed and validated by the team at the centre in collaboration with the University of Dhaka.

Pictured below left and right, Marie holds the picture book and explains to the students the importance of each sentence.


Each member of the GOSH/ Addenbrooks team that visited Bangladesh did so in their own time and flights were donated by the Emirates Airline Foundation. CLEFT hopes to be able to bring Fairooz to the UK later this year for further ongoing training and support. A second Speech and Language Therapist is also being recruited to work alongside Fairooz at the SHNIBPS.