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10 children from Nagaland undergo free corrective surgeries under Shija’s Cleft Project

Ten Children from Nagaland with with their parents

Cleft patients who want to avail of free corrective surgery may call Oking Hospital, Kohima (0370 2290080, 9436000494) or Smile Train Shija Cleft Project, Imphal (9436869799, 9436235270).

TFM Desk

When Sholula gave birth to her baby girl, Hanlumla one year ago, she was distraught and worried because her child was born with cleft lip and palate. The mother could not take her daughter out of the house without dodging stares and whispers. 

Working as a daily wager, the parents could not afford any treatment. Sholula, who hailed from Shamator village in Tuensang district of Nagaland heard about free cleft lip and palate surgery to be done at Shija Hospitals through Oking Hospital, Kohima. They took a tedious journey to Kohima staying overnight at a neighboring village till they got transport to Kohima. 

This is just one of the ten other such cleft and lip palate patients who have been suffering and were not able to afford any treatment until the Smile Train Shija Cleft Project, Imphal, Smile Train, India, and Oking Hospital, Kohima jointly reached out to the cleft lip and palate patients of Nagaland and gave them a new lease of life by rendering free of cost corrective surgery, free medicine, accommodation, and travel allowances. 

Smile Train, India in collaboration with the Smile Train Shija Cleft Project team sent a 41 seater bus with four of its staff to pick up the awaiting cleft patients from Oking Hospital, Kohima, Nagaland on January 17, 2022. Ten patients and their attendants with negative RT-PCR reports were chauffeured to Imphal and got admitted to Shija Hospitals & Research Institute (SHRI) for corrective surgery on the same day. 

After successful completion of the corrective surgeries by the Smile Train Partnered Experts at SHRI, all the patients and their attendants were tested for COVID-19 and ferried back to the Oking Hospital on January 20, 2022 in the same bus accompanied by Shija Smile Makers, according to a release by Shija Hospital & Research Institute. 

COVID appropriate protocols were followed during the entire process. For all the Cleft lip and Palate-related initiatives in Nagaland, Oking Hospital is the partnered hospital for Smile Train Cleft Project. 

The consultants of Shija provided powdered milk packets to help feed the patients and sponsored the meals of the attendants during their stay at SHRI. Most of the patients were from remote villages of Nagaland who had to travel more than 350 km by road and took about two days just to reach the partnered hospital in Kohima. 

Smile Train partnered with Shija in 2006 and since then the program has been named Smile Train Shija Cleft Project. Under the project, more than 649 cleft patients from Nagaland have availed of free treatment and still counting. Through this project, more than 4,000 free cleft surgeries have been successfully performed till date. 

Cleft lip and cleft palate are openings or splits in the upper lip, the roof of the mouth (palate) and are among the most common birth defects. Cleft Lip should be corrected from the age of 6 months onwards and Cleft Palate from 14 months onwards to achieve the best results. 

Research reveals that three infants with a cleft are born every hour in India. These patients are unable to avail treatment due to financial constraints and unawareness of the treatment facility. Children born with clefts have difficulty eating, breathing, and speaking. Untreated they live a life of isolation and the majority of these children never go to school and seldom find jobs. 

Cleft patients who want to avail of free corrective surgery may call Oking Hospital, Kohima (0370 2290080, 9436000494) or Smile Train Shija Cleft Project, Imphal (9436869799, 9436235270).

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