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Free cleft surgeries in Jorhat hospital soon

Jorhat, June 10: Operation Smile (India), Guwahati centre will conduct free surgeries for cleft and palate deformities at the Jorhat Medical College and Hospital (JMCH) later this month.

The NGO has been carrying out screening camps and offering free plastic surgeries to people suffering from cleft and palate deformities since January 2009, in partnership with the Assam government’s health and family welfare department and support from the National Rural Health Mission.

Well-known plastic surgeons from across the world have been performing operations successfully and bringing smiles to faces at the Guwahati centre. Facial deformity occurs once in every 700 births, according to a latest global study report.

Jorhat additional deputy commissioner (health) Bubul Lekharu told The Telegraph that for the first time a surgery camp would be held here from June 26 to July 3.

He said usually people, especially children suffering from lip, palate and facial deformities, are identified in the districts and corrective surgeries done on them at the NGO’s Guwahati centre (Mahendra Mohan Choudhury Hospital). But recently, the NGO has started conducting surgery camps outside the centre to offer treatment to patients nearer home.

Such camps have been organised by the NGO at Chabua in Dibrugarh district, Silchar in Cachar district and in Meghalaya’s capital Shillong. The ADC said the district administration has undertaken all necessary measures to enable the NGO to successfully organise the surgery camp.

Lekharu said about 200 patients, mostly children, have been identified in preliminary screening surveys conducted by the administration through Anganwadi workers and staff of the social welfare department.

The ADC hoped that by organising such surgery camps here more children with cleft and related deformities will come up for medical intervention and more camps could be organised here. This would contribute to Jorhat’s bid among other districts to be declared the first cleft-free district in the state in the near future.

Manager (patient recruitment and communications) of Operation Smile (India), Guwahati centre, Dipul Malakar, said a 20-member medical team, including surgeons and paramedical staff from the Guwahati centre will conduct surgery camps at the JMCH.

Malakar said necessary infrastructure to carry out the surgeries was available at the operation theatre of the JMCH and the team will take along other equipment needed as well.

He said screening would be done on the first day to select patients who will be fit to undergo surgeries. Surgery cannot be done if the patient is found to be malnourished or suffering from serious ailments. To be eligible for cleft surgery, a patient has to be at least six months old and the minimum age for palate surgery is one year.

Malakar said after the surgery, the NGO will also offer post-care services to the patients by providing speech therapy treatment, if needed, and check-up camps.

The NGO’s manager said till date in Jorhat district, surgeries for cleft and related deformities have been done on 415 patients and the total number of surgeries in Assam (including 542 from Meghalaya) was 11,500.

Malakar said according to the latest survey reports, there are about 1,000 people with cleft, palate and other facial deformities in Jorhat district and the NGO was planning to conduct more surgery camps in the district so that by the end of 2015 the district could be declared cleft-free.


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