Over 10 lakh children in India live with untreated cleft lips simply because they cannot afford the surgery which costs a little over ten thousand rupees.
Over 10 lakh children in India live with untreated cleft lips simply because they cannot afford the surgery which costs a little over ten thousand rupees. However, these unfortunate children can smile if their parents and guardians are made aware that many hospitals across the country are offering free cleft and palate surgeries.
All that the parents and guardians of the children suffering from impaired clefts and palates are required to know is which hospitals in their nearby areas have tied up with Smile Train, world’s leading charity organisation that has been supporting the cause.
“Every year, close to 35,000 babies are born with cleft lip and palate in India. Many people do not know cleft and palate surgeries are conducted free of cost. Hospitals which have tied up with Smile Train, apart from providing free bed, medicines and nursing services, also sponsor the transportation charges of patients from their homes to the hospitals,” said Dr S. Baliarsingh of Kalinga Hospital.
Dr Baliarsingh and his fellow doctors at Kalinga Hospital have conducted over four thousand cleft and palate surgeries in the last 10 years. Most of the patients belonged to poor families.
“It gives utmost satisfaction when a child with impaired cleft and palate flashes a natural smile after a successful surgery. He or she is no longer laughed at or mocked by friends or looked down upon by people who consider the impairment as a curse,” the doctor says.
According to Mamtaa Carroll, Smile Train vice president and regional director, South Asia, cleft and palate defects impair eating, speaking and breathing and can lead to a life filled with shame and social isolation for the children and their families. “In the last 16 years, we have helped provide new smiles and second chances in life to over 4.5 lakh children in India. Smile Train provides comprehensive cleft lip and palate care to its patients and does not restrict the services to just surgery,” she adds. “In India, a lot of myths and taboos are associated with clefts because of which children born with the deformity are not allowed to attend school, are shunned from the society and forced to live an isolated life. Once the cleft and palate impairments are corrected by surgery, the children are integrated into society. They are provided holistic care, including speech therapy and orthodontics, to live absolutely as complete and normal human beings,” says Ms Carroll.