Chahine EM, Ramly EP, Marston AP, Teng SN, Nader M, Kassam SN, Kantar RS, Hamdan US
Background Comprehensive cleft care is a multidisciplinary team endeavor. While untreated craniofacial conditions have multiple undue repercussions, cleft care in outreach settings can be fraught with significant perioperative morbidity risks. Aim Propose updated quality assurance standards addressing logistic and operational considerations essential for the delivery of safe and effective cleft lip and /or palate (CL/P) care in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) settings. Methods Based on American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association (ACPA) quality standards, published literature, published protocols by Global Smile Foundation (GSF), and the senior author's three-decade experience, updated standards for outreach cleft care were synthesized. Results Ten axes for safe, effective, and sustainable cleft lip and palate care delivery in underserved settings were generated: 1) site assessment, 2) establishment of community partnerships, 3) team composition and credentialing, 4) team training and mission preparation, 5) implementation of quality assurance guidelines, operative safety checklists, and emergency response protocols, 6) immediate and long-term postoperative care, 7) medical record keeping, 8) outcomes evaluation, 9) education, and 10) capacity building and sustainability. Subsequent analysis further characterized essential components of each of those ten axes to delineate experience derived and evidence-based recommendations. Discussion Quality assurance guidelines are essential for the safe delivery of comprehensive cleft care to patients with CL/P in any setting. Properly designed surgical outreach programs relying on honest community partnerships can be effectively used as vehicles for local capacity building and the establishment of sustainable cleft care ecosystems.