Neocolonialism in Global Cleft Care

Session Date: April 22, 2021

Session Description: Low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are inordinately impacted by the burdens associated with cleft lip and palate due to poor access to healthcare, transportation, medical equipment, providers, and training opportunities. International medical mission groups often perpetuate neocolonialism as they disrupt local health systems and lack sustainable mechanisms to ensure continuous comprehensive cleft care delivery. The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected the provision of global cleft care and furthered the effects of neocolonialism on local health systems. Partnership models employed by international NGOs like Smile Train strengthen health systems, facilitate continuous multidisciplinary patient care, and provide bidirectional exchanges for building capacity of local medical professionals. This panel will discuss the impact of the partnership model on the delivery of cleft care in LMICs, the intrinsic relationship between neocolonialism and the mission model, and the magnifying effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on neocolonialism in global cleft care.