Dr. S. Venkatesan
This theme paper outlines the unique socio-cultural facets of cleft lip and palate in India. The triumvirate perspectives of magico-religious, medical and human rights models are invoked to highlight the phenomenology of nomenclature, characteristics, etiology, and management of persons with such orofacial differences. The need to supplement the prevailing, pervading and predominantly medical approach to cleft lip and palate in the country with studies espousing the ‘person-in-environment’ social perspective is advocated. By invoking a life span perspective blended with rights based approaches, the related problems or issues emerging and impacting on the quality of life of these persons across age levels are highlighted. It is argued that the experience of negative thoughts and feelings among these persons are more due to the unpredictability of other peoples' reactions than owing to their primary condition. Amelioration of their well being is recommended by fostering socio-cultural and attitudinal change programs through propaganda and public education as a needed agenda for social action.