The Smile Torch arrived in Bangalore on November 10 to spread awareness on cleft
Smile Train, the world’s largest cleft care charitable organization, along with its partner hospital, Bhagwan Mahaveer Jain Hospital announced key initiatives to address the current cleft burden in India. Currently, more than 35,000 babies are born with cleft lips and/or palates every year in India, and providing safe surgery for children at scale is critical, as Smile Train looks to support 1 million surgeries in the next ten years. The Smile Train Bhagwan Mahaveer Jain Cleft Fellowship, in affiliation with Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, is first-of-its-kind in Bengaluru. This will help in capacity building of young oral and maxillofacial surgeons to bridge the deficit for quality and safe cleft surgery. The fellowship will cover all the aspects of cleft care, including different types of surgical procedures and management of comprehensive cleft care.
In addition, Smile Train India and Bhagwan Mahaveer Jain Hospital organised a walkathon in support of children born with clefts, to coincide with the arrival of The Smile Torch to Bengaluru on Sunday, November 10, 2019. The Smile Torch was flagged off from Varanasi in February this year to commemorate the National Cleft Day on February 8, 2019 and has already travelled across 13 states of the country.
Smile Train has supported 38,000+ cleft surgeries in Karnataka since 2001, through its network of seven partner hospitals in Bengaluru, Belagavi, Mangaluru, Raichur, Gulbarga, Davangere and Dharwad. Lakhs of untreated cases of cleft exist in the country due to monetary constraints or lack of awareness. Smile Train India has supported 600,000+ cleft surgeries in India through a pan-India network of 150 partner hospitals.
Speaking on the occasion, Renu Mehta, Area Director, Strategic Projects – South Asia, SmileTrain said, “Since 2000, Smile Train has built a sustainable ecosystem to alleviate the cleft burden in India. This involves working with partner hospitals, government initiatives like the Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK) under the National Health Mission and through large scale awareness building initiatives like the Smile Torch.” She further added, “Partnering with the government is critical to achieve scale as the RBSK Program includes provisions for child health screening and early intervention services which is critical in the cleft conditions. Timely detection of cleft conditions is necessary for children to lead a healthy and productive life.”
Dr. Bonanthaya Krishnamurthy, a renowned oral and maxillofacial surgeon and Smile Train Project Director at Bhagwan Mahaveer Jain Hospital said, “Bhagwan Mahaveer Jain Hospital has been a proud partner of Smile Train India for 15 years. We have focused on and delivered comprehensive cleft care to nearly 9000 cleft patients. The launch of the Fellowship is a significant step in capacity building and we hope it will be a benchmark for other hospitals in Smile Train’s network to follow.”
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