GUWAHATI, Sept 20 � The State Health Department and National Rural Health Mission in collaboration with Smile Train India would increase the number of patients who require cleft free surgery from November this year.
�The eventual aim would be to make Assam free of cleft lip and cleft palate children in the next five years,� said State Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
During a press conference on Sunday, Sarma revealed that the State Government was committed to treat all children with cleft lip and cleft palate in collaboration with Smile Train India. This would be translated into action by setting up a dedicated facility at Mahendra Mohan Choudhury Hospital in Guwahati.
From November onwards, the newly developed facility will cater to the needs of children from all over the state. Doctors from abroad, as well as from Assam will be available to carry out surgical procedures to treat the children with cleft lips.
�This step will help more number of children, and will also bring down the expenses incurred,� Sarma said, and added that the new practice would further help local doctors to be trained by foreign specialists.
Four specialist doctors from abroad will be stationed in Guwahati, who will be assisted by ten local doctors and nursing staff so that they could treat more children in an effective manner, he said.
He introduced a young child, named Noor, who will be taken to the US for treatment. The child requires multiple surgical interventions over a long period, and his treatment and stay will be provided by Smile Train International. He would be taken to St Peter�s Hospital at Norfolk, Virginia, where he will undergo a series of surgeries.
Sarma stated that he was upbeat about the Smile Train programme, saying �we are now going for an upscale effort�. From November the target in this phase would be 500 children.
Sarma further said a more comprehensive plan to tackle the needs of suffering children was being prepared that might take the shape of a trust. �We will ask the Chief Minister to head the Trust that would take care of medical needs of children,� he noted. The Trust would cater to physical as well as psychological needs of children.