Medica has tied up with Bhagwaan Mahaveer Cleft Foundation to provide free services to children belonging to socio-economically backward classes who are born with a cleft lip or palate problem. This facility has been provided in collaboration with SMILE TRAIN – USA
Smile Train is the world’s largest cleft charity, providing free cleft and palate treatment across India through its nationwide network of accredited treatment centres.
Every year 35,000 children in India are born with clefts – a gap in the upper lip and/or palate. Though completely treatable, less than half get the treatment they desperately need – only because they are either ignorant too poor to afford the cost.
Without corrective surgery, these children are condemned to a lifetime of isolation and suffering. Taunted and tormented for their disfigurement, they cannot attend school, hold a regular job or get married. Many are even abandoned or killed at birth.
The irony is that a cleft can be completely corrected with a simple surgical procedure that could take as little as 45 minutes.
That’s where Smile Train comes in, with the overriding goal of making safe and quality treatment of cleft lip and palate accessible to the millions who cannot afford it. Since 2000 AD, Smile Train has sponsored over 250,000 safe, quality surgeries across India, totally free of cost.
The venture is unique because it works only with local doctors – training, helping and empowering them to become self-sufficient.
There are an estimated 10 lakh untreated cases of clefts in India. The goal of Smile Train is to continue providing cleft surgeries across India – on an ever increasing scale – until the problem of clefts has been completely eradicated.
WHAT ARE CLEFTS?
A cleft occurs when certain body parts and structures do not fuse together during the development of the foetus. Clefts can involve the lip, the roof of the mouth, and the soft tissue in the back of the mouth. They occur very early in the development of the foetus when many women do not even know they are pregnant. The crucial time for head and face development of a foetus is between the 3rd and 9th weeks of pregnancy.
Clefts are the number one birth defect in many developing countries.
Cleft lips come in a broad range of severity and disfigurement. Some can be as mild as a slight notch in the red part of the upper lip to a severe cleft lip involving total separation of the lip all the way up into the nose. Cleft lips can involve a single cleft (which is known as a unilateral cleft), or a double cleft (bilateral cleft). They always occur on the upper lip.
Cleft palates can range from a tiny little hole in back of the roof of the mouth to a major cavity that runs all the way from the front to the back of the mouth. A cleft palate can occur on one side or both sides of the upper mouth.
The exact causes of cleft lip and palate are not known. But most experts agree that these are “multi-factorial” and may include a genetic predisposition as well as environmental issues such as drug and alcohol use, smoking, maternal illness, infections and lack of vitamin B folic acid.
A woman is at a higher risk for having a baby with a cleft if she is a teenager or over 35 years old and is exposed to teratogens, which include medications, chemicals, infectious diseases and environmental agents that can disrupt the normal development of a foetus.
Incidence of Clefts
It is estimated that one child in every 700 is born with a cleft. For India, this translates into over 35,000 babies born each year with this condition.
Aishwaria care for Clefts –
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, hailed by many as the most beautiful woman in the world, is the first Goodwill Ambassador for Smile Train.
Recognized as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, Aishwarya is partnering with Smile Train, in association with her own charity, the Aishwarya Rai Foundation, in numerous ways to spread awareness and garner recourses to help the worldwide movement.