About Dr. Christopher Forrest
Dr. Christopher Forrest is an international authority on pediatric craniofacial deformities; the care of infants and children with complex deformities of the skull and facial skeleton. A plastic surgeon with a practice solely dedicated to craniomaxillofacial surgery, he is also the Division Head of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery at the Hospital for Sick Children and the Medical Director of the Center for Craniofacial Care & Research. In addition to his clinical and research interests, Dr. Forrest travels around the world to participate in educational symposia and the training of other surgeons.
Transforming Faces Worldwide (TFW) is a Canadian charity providing free cleft lip and palate care in developing countries. It also aims to provide the patients with the ability to have socially acceptable and productive lifestyles. TFW employs a multidisciplinary approach through local teams comprised of surgeons, dentists, nurses, social workers, speech therapists, and audiologists.
In 2013, TFW invited Dr. Forrest and a team from Sick Kids to coordinate a needs assessment for the Yekatit 12 Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The limited resources, lack of community awareness, and a health care system that primarily focuses on infectious diseases all challenge the provision of cleft lip care in Ethiopia. Dr. Forrest’s site visit was instrumental in helping the hospital’s team develop an orthognathic surgery program for managing the needs of patients with cleft lips and palates.
Following the visit, Dr. Forrest yielded a comprehensive report with recommendations for capacity building in program organization (for surgery, orthodontia, and social work), skill development, patient evaluation, and effective decision-making. Suggestions included local surgeon access to the Journal of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery and other web-based educational sources, and the development of databases to assist with patient follow- ups. Additionally, there is discussion of industry partnerships for the provision of hospital equipment to Addis Ababa, and the opportunity for the SickKids Foundation to bring an Ethiopian medical team to Toronto to provide cleft lip surgical skills training. With only eleven plastic surgeons for a population of 78 million, SickKids’ assistance would have a long-term effect on the cleft lip and palate care delivery in Ethiopia.