Transfer of know-how: the Cleft Centre in Bishkek

Since 2003 our German team of surgeons operates successfully on children with cleft lips and cleft palates in Bishkek. In the meantime the Kyrgyz colleagues received further education in surgery and work on the same level

Hundreds of affected Kyrgyz children now benefit from the aid project of the Foundation Confidence for Children. Their families are more than happy.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, and while it continues to transform itself into a free market economy, the Republic of Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia is still in urgent need of international help. Due to the weakness of the country’s economy, 34 percent of the population continues to live below the poverty line, with the children in particular suffering.

Following an initiative of Dr Ernst Albrecht, a former member of its Board of Trustees (who used to advise former Kyrgyz President Akayev until 2005), the German Stiftung Zuversicht für Kinder has been working in the country for several years and has been looking after needy children in various areas (children suffering from diabetes, orphans, Aids information campaign, street children). On the ground in Bishkek, the foundation has been cooperating very closely with the German Enterprise for Technical Cooperation, the ‘Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)’. While doing so, it became apparent that setting up an interdisciplinary treatment center for children with facial deformities was of major importance.

In the meantime, various medical task forces have arrived and been able to surgically rehabilitate children with facial deformities at the National Centre of Maternity and Childhood Care in Bishkek. As agreed with local doctors and government representatives, an interdisciplinary treatment center is to be set up over the next few years, which is to provide orthodontic and phoniatric/paedaudiologic treatment following surgical rehabilitation. The project will be sponsored by Stiftung Zuversicht für Kinder Switzerland.

Cleft lip, jaw and palate (cleft LJP) is a group of quite frequent congenital deformities in humans. Commonly, during gestation, parts of the facial oral region of the embryo do not develop normally. Colloquially, they are often referred to in a discriminating way as ‘hare lips’ (due to the characteristic split in the upper lip); its grave form is the ‘cleft palate’ (serious anatomical impairment due to a split in the maxillary, dental and facial skeleton).

A full rehabilitation of children with cleft LJP does not just require the complete anatomical and functional closing of the fissure through surgery but also the use of various conservative treatment measures. Only with the help of such a combined therapy, which requires long-term treatment starting at birth and lasting well into early adulthood, will it be possible to avoid permanent functional disorders such as speech problems, partial deafness due to insufficient ventilation of the middle ear, dental mal-alignment and problems regarding the intake of food due to remaining perforations in the palate. As experience shows, such comprehensive treatment can only be carried out by an interdisciplinary treatment team at a treatment center. The ideal core treatment team therefore consists of oral and maxillofacial surgeons, orthodontists and phoniatrists/paedaudiologists.


Our team (f.l.): Prof Dr Dr Jarg-Erich Hausamen, Marianne Campiche, Dr Dr Wiebke Schupp, Dr Brigitte Winkler, Dr Christopher Eulzer und Hans Berten.

In Kyrgyzstan (approx. 5 million inhabitants), every year there are around 250 to 300 new cases i.e. children born with cleft lip, jaw and palate. These children need care until well into adulthood, which means that within the next ten years around 2,500 children and adolescents will benefit from the Cleft Centre. These children are to be saved from a permanent and serious disability through the newly acquired know-how of the local surgeons and anesthetists and the establishment of an orthodontics and phoniatry /paedaudiology department. They are not just to be saved from a grave deformity but they are also to learn how to eat, hear, breathe and speak normally.

Here you can download all the important information on the project.


Download: Our project brochure (pdf 2.6 MB | 01.09.2015)

Within the scope of the interdisciplinary project the very first orthodontic department in the National Children's Hospital in Bishkek was established.  Kyrgyz colleagues are trained here.

The speech therapy is a new field in the interdisciplinary treatment of cleft children. the Kyrgyz colleagues have also been introduced to this discipline.

Dr. Altynbek Mamyraliev (right) is happy: Now he can provide surgical rehabilitation of his little patients on top-level.