The first national referral center for people with craniofacial visible differences in Greece, namely the Craniofacial Differences Referral Centre (CDRC) will soon be launching under the roof of the Special Unit for Biomedical Research and Education (SUBRE) of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.
Dr. Pericles Foroglou, Associate Professor of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the University’s School of Medicine, will be the lead of CDRC, which will function on a multidisciplinary and interdepartmental approach, respecting equality, diversity, and human rights.
The project is now in the process of recruiting and should open for patients by the end of 2022, the professor tells Greek Reporter, promising a model unit which will be working “in transparency, honesty, and appropriate policies with no hidden agenda and in a non-imperious way.”
Multidisciplinary team work
The CDRC project was presented by Dr. Foroglou at the 2022 Aristotle Annual Medical Forum in July.
The mission of this model unit is two-fold, the professor explains: “One, it is absolutely essential to create a formal registry of these conditions. Without it, we don’t go anywhere. And, second, it is to provide and define clear treatment pathways. It will function through two distinct programs, one for cleft lip and palate and one for craniofacial differences.”
The center’s scientific committee will be formed by craniofacial plastic surgeons, ENT surgeons, pediatricians, and a neurosurgeon, all with an interest in the field.
Since the treatment of craniofacial visible differences is clearly a matter of multidisciplinary work, staff will include a wide range of medical specialists and other collaborating health professionals, ranging from neonatologists and geneticists to occupational and speech therapists.
Their approach will see all congenital or acquired conditions.
“The team will treat function and appearance of these patients, and all patients, adults, and children, will receive comprehensive, specialized multidisciplinary care,” Dr. Foroglou points out.
“We aim to set an example for the next generation,” he said.
Building public awareness on craniofacial visible differences
A visible difference is a medical condition that may be present at birth and differs significantly from the usual or common anatomy and function of the human body. It may be congenital or acquired, and it needs both surgical and psychosocial intervention.
According to London-born Greek Christian J. Hadjipateras, who has had fifty surgeries to correct the craniofacial visible differences with which he was born, there is still a lack of awareness on these conditions in Greece.
He has been campaigning for Face Equality in Greece and abroad since 2014.
The organizations he has worked with aim to empower and give hope to individuals and families affected by craniofacial visible differences with the goal of creating a world in which everyone is treated fairly without regard to their appearance.
“I want to emphasize the importance of inclusion and equal chances in every aspect of life, be it in the workplace, educational institutions, or in social situations,” Hadjipateras said in an interview with Greek Reporter in May.
“By changing people’s attitudes and by gradually eroding away prejudice and ignorance, we can create a society that sees beyond a face that looks different and looks straight into the essence of a fellow human being,” he emphasized.