Several thousand reasons to smile

Several thousand reasons to smile

Filmmaker Megan Mylan with Dr Subodh Kumar Singh and Dr Ashish Sabarwal during a press meet in Bangalore on Wednesday. DH Photo

Megan Mylan, maker of the Oscar-winning documentary, “Smile Pinki”, is here to not just promote the film but also launch an awareness campaign on righting a wrong that cleft palates and lips cannaot be corrected by surgery. “Smile Pinki” is a 39-minute documentary about a group of children in a village with cleft lips who get a life-changing operation through the charity organisation Smile Train. The documentary will open for public screening here shortly.

Speaking on the occasion, Mylan said the film’s purpose was to help every child in India with cleft lip to know that it was a very common and treatable problem. SmileTrain, the international NGO, which helps local doctors to conduct free cleft surgeries and had sponsored Pinki’s surgery, is expected to screen the films in theatres, television, schools and public health centres to create more awareness.

Dr Subodh Kumar Singh, who treated Pinki and is SmileTrain’s project director, said the documentary would hopefully encourage more plastic surgeons to join this movement and bring down the current backlog of one million cleft lip/palate people in the country. He said: “The government should create a cleft registry along with other birth abnormalities and refer them to SmileTrain for surgery, thereby ensuring the treatment of all new cases.”  

Currently, SmileTrain has 250 surgeons working at 160 centres spread across the country and has achieved 1,70,000 surgeries so far. Karnataka has nearly 11 centres, out of which, three are in the City - Bhagawan Mahaveer Jain Hospital, Bangalore Hospital and Sparsh Hospital.

Dr Krishnamurthy Bonanthaya, Maxillo-Facial surgeon, Bhagawan Mahaveer Jain Hospital, began working with SmileTrain five years back. “At that time, only 20 per cent of the patients were between the age of three monts and a year, which is the ideal period to perform the surgery. Now, 50 per cent of the patients fall in this age category. This shows that we are able to treat infants at the right age,” he said.

The hospital was also working with a local NGO Chitraantana, which conducted the outreach programme in almost seven districts around Bangalore.