GUWAHATI, May 19 - Smile Train India – the country’s largest cleft charity – and its partner hospital, KGMT Multispecialty Hospital, welcomed the Smile Torch to the city today.
The Smile Torch is a unique, national initiative for creating renewed awareness about clefts and its treatment. The torch was launched on February 8, 2019 on National Cleft Day in Varanasi and is travelling across India to help sensitise communities about the challenges faced by children born with clefts.
Speaking about the initiative, Ishani Biswas, Program Manager, Smile Train India, said the biggest challenges in cleft treatment were affordability and accessibility.
“The Smile Torch serves to remind communities that children with clefts have the right to smile and need our support. Only together can we ensure complete integration of these children in the mainstream society,” she added.
To welcome the Smile Torch, Smile Train India and KGMT Multispecialty Hospital organised a series of events to create awareness and support for children born with clefts. It is estimated that in India, more than 35,000 children are born with clefts every year.
Speaking about clefts, Dr Seema Rekha Devi, Smile Train Program Director and Plastic Surgeon at KGMT Multispecialty Hospitals, said, “Children with untreated clefts are often forced to live a life of isolation whereas timely treatment can give them a second chance at life. Cleft surgery is safe and the transformation is immediate. After treatment, children lead normal lives and have the opportunity to go to school, make friends, learn a trade and get a job. That is the power of a smile.”
Actress Prastuti Parashar; journalist Samudra Gupta Kashyap and writer Manikuntala Bhattacharjee were the guests of honour at today’s programme. They extended their support to the children born with clefts.
Smile Train India’s partner hospital(s) also conducted various activities such as on-the-spot drawing competitions and dance and skit performances for cleft patients.
Smile Train India has supported over 5,50,000 cleft surgeries in India and more than 4,000 free cleft lip and palate reconstructive surgeries in Assam. This has been possible through a network of partner hospitals including KGMT Multispecialty Hospital (Guwahati), Mediland Hospital and Research Centre (Silchar) and Srishti Hospitals & Research Centre (Dibrugarh).
Smile Train empowers local medical professionals with training, funding, and resources to provide free cleft surgery and comprehensive cleft care to children globally. It advances a sustainable solution and scalable global health model for cleft treatment, drastically improving children’s lives, including their ability to eat, breathe, speak, and ultimately thrive.
KGMT Hospital is a multi-speciality institute committed to provide healthcare to the people, with special focus on women and children. It has also been working for the well-being of the sick and the needy. It also happens to be one of the few hospitals of the North East to be associated with Smile Train Organisation since 2005. It provides speech therapy along with free cleft lip surgeries and post-operative care. All cleft lip surgeries are funded by Smile Train Organisation.