By OUR STAFF REPORTER
Dehradun, 14 May: Smile Train India – the country’s largest cleft charity – and its partner hospital, Himalayan Hospital, will welcome the ‘Smile Torch’ to Dehradun on Thursday. This was stated, here, today.
The Smile Torch is a unique national initiative for creating renewed awareness about cleft lips and their treatment. Dr Vijay Dhasmana, Vice Chancellor of Swami Ram Himalayan University, said that the torch was launched 8 February 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, Sheila Koyyana, Manager – Programmes, Smile Train India, shared, “The biggest challenges in cleft treatment are 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 mainstream society.”
To welcome the Smile Torch in Dehradun, Smile Train India and Himalayan Hospital are organising a series of colourful events including a motorcycle rally, essay writing, rangoli and speech competition to create awareness and support for children born with clefts. It is estimated that, in India, over 35,000 children are born with clefts every year.
Speaking about clefts, Dr Sanjay Dwivedi, Project Director of the Cleft Programme at Himalayan Hospital, shared, “Children with untreated clefts are often forced to live a life of isolation when 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.” Himalayan Institute has operated on 8300 cases in the past 15 years of partnership with the Smile Train.
Smile Train India has supported over 5 lakh cleft surgeries in India, including over 11,000 free cleft lip and palate reconstructive surgeries in Uttarakhand alone in just 19 years. This has been possible through a network of partner hospitals with the Himalayan Institute Hospital as a pioneering partner in Dehradun.
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. Director of the Smile Train at Himalayan Institute speaking about the future plans said, “We plan to develop this as a centre of excellence in Northern India to provide world class comprehensive cleft care under one roof. The Smile Torch event programme at Himalayan Institute will be conducted by Dr Vaibhavi Dhasmana. Chief Guest Brigadier Dr Atul Sood, Dean Dr Mushtaq Ahmed and Pro Vice Chancellor Dr Vijendra Chauhan will also express their views at this event.