‘To Give Child A Smile’- Cleft Lip and Palate Centre Launched at FMMC

‘To Give Child A Smile’- Cleft Lip and Palate Centre Launched at FMMC

Mangaluru: With a motto to “Give a Child their Smile”, Fr Muller Medical College Hospital came up with an initiative to open a “Cleft Lip and Palate Centre” which would serve the lo-income and poor people who can’t afford to bear the expenses of treatment and surgery. Cleft Lip and Palate affects about 1 new born child in every 700, and has little deviation across race and gender. Fortunately for most of the modern world, Cleft Lip and Palate is addressed early and the effects are well hidden. What we call a “harelip” is often the result of early surgical intervention in a child born with a Cleft Lip and Palate. Not all people are lucky enough to have access to surgical intervention, and to help such poor and needy people Fr Muller Hospital in association with organizations like Deutsche Cleft Kinder-Hilfee V (German Cleft Children’s Aid Society) and Akila Bharatha Mahila Seva Samaj came forward to help for their opportunity to lead a normal life. Their service will provide a life changing surgery and give a child a smile!

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The Cleft Lip and Palate Centre was inaugurated on Friday, 14 October 2016 at Fr Muller Medical College Hospital in association with Deutsche Cleft Kinder Hilfee V (DCKH) and Akila Bharata Mahila Seva Samaja by MLA JR Lobo, along with other dignitaries on the dais namely- Dushyant R Prasad- Regional Director, South Asia, DCKH-Germany; Rev Fr Patrick Rodrigues- Director, Fr Muller Charitable Institutions; Dr Jayaprakash Alva- Dean, Fr Muller Medical College; Fr Richard Coelho- Administrator, Fr Muller Medical College Hospital; Fr Rudolph D’Sa- Administrator, Fr Muller Medical College; and Dr Naveen Rao- Organizing Chairperson of this project. Fr Peter Noronha- Former Director of FMCI, Sr Janet D’Souza- Chief Nursing Officer, Dr Jyothi Menezes-Organizing Secretary, among many others doctors, staff and students graced the occasion.

Addressing the gathering JR Lobo said, ” I have seen the state of the children affected with Cleft Lip, they go through lots of consequences and pain. My neighbor, a girl child had this Cleft Lip, where he suffered for nearly 13-14 years since they couldn’t afford any surgery. Later they managed to get a surgery done, but still she is not completely recovered. I was really surprised that Fr Muller didn’t had a full-fledged Cleft Lip and Palate Centre till now, but with all the efforts and interest shown by Dr Naveen Rao, we finally have a Centre here where poor people can avail the treatment and surgery without any hassles. Surely large number of people would benefit from this centre, which is the 16th centre opened in India. Let this Cleft Lip and Palate Centte grow as the biggest and best centre in the state, and Country”.

Speaking during the occasion, Dushyant Prasad said, “Every minute a child with cleft lip and palate is born. Cleft lip and palate is one of the most common deformities and it has far-reaching consequences for the concerned and their families. Untreated children barely have a chance in life. Even the intake of valuable mother’s milk constitutes a major challenge for the children.They face severe health problems, are concerned with speaking and hearing difficulties and suffer from social exclusion and isolation.The good news is: Cleft can be treated.”

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“Deutsche Cleft Kinderhilfee.V is a German non-profit organization that supports surgeries for cleft children from poor families in eleven countries. Accounting for about 50% of the total number of surgeries, India constitutes our most significant project country. In 16 cleft centres all across India we closely work together with highly motivated surgeons, anesthesiologists, orthodontists and speech therapists. Our aim is to deliver quality Cleft care to the underprivileged so that these children can lead a normal and productive life. In addition to the services directed to the patient, the organization also supports awareness work in rural areas and education of doctors and medical personnel involved in supporting the charitable cause. In the last couple of years we managed to treat about 4000 children annually worldwide, about 2000 of whom in India. This year it is our goal to transform the lives of 2700 cleft children! Deutsche Cleft Kinderhilfee.V. is represented in India by its affiliate ABMSS. We feel proud to be associated with FMMC in launching our centre here, and with the professional doctors here this centre will be of great importance to those with Cleft Lip and palate” added Prasad.

In his presidential address, Rev Fr Patrick Rodrigues said, ” I am very much overwhelmed to note that after 136 years of existence of this prestigious medical institution, we have launched a Cleft Lip and palate Centre. Thanks to the great initiative by Dr Naveen Rao and MLA J R Lobo, this Centre took birth. Lobo has also helped in getting government scholarships to the deserving students of our institute.We should call JR Lobo as the “Social Doctor of FMMC?”. This Centre will surely benefit those who can’t afford surgery and other treatment costs. We need to be also grateful to The German Cleft Children’s Aid Society which operates according to the principle of helping others to help themselves, that means that they develop competence centres and supporting structures in the respective countries that are run by their local staff and are linked into an international network of specialists.”

Fr Rodrigues further said, ” The most important part besides the immediate help of the affected cleft children is the development of independence and self-responsibility of the involved project partners and the expansion of this international network so that it will be able to advance and support the help for the children with cleft lips and palates in a comprehensive and interdisciplinary manner. We are lucky to be associated with them through our friend Dushyant Prasad. I wish the doctors and the staff of this newly launched Cleft Lip and Palate all success, and may they serve the poor in the time of their needs”.

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The vote of thanks was proposed by Dr Jyothi Menezes- organizing secretary of the project, and the programme was professionally compered by Dr Ria Susan George. Let me end this report with a short story where a mother had asked for some inspirational quotes to be used on a project for a little girl with cleft lip. She wrote, ” I am looking for a quote to use on a project for a little girl who was born with a cleft lip, and had surgery at 5 weeks old. I was hoping for something about the strength of this little girl, something inspirational, mentioning what she overcame maybe? I just couldn’t find something that seemed appropriate. If anyone has any suggestions, I’d be so grateful! “.

In response, not just one, she received quite a few inspiring quotes, they are :

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you stop to look fear in the face.”-Eleanor Roosevelt

“I am only one, but still I am one; I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”
-Edward. E. Hale


“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”~Albert Einstein

“There is no medicine like hope, no incentive so great, and no tonic so powerful as expectation of something tomorrow.”~ Orison Swett Marden

Hope the above quotes will also give some inspiration to all those affected with Cleft Lip and Palate

About Cleft Lip and Palate :


Before and After

A cleft is a gap or split in the upper lip and/or roof of the mouth (palate). It is present from birth. The gap is there because parts of the baby’s face didn’t join together properly during development in the womb. A cleft lip and palate is the most common facial birth defect around the world. Babies can be born with a cleft lip, a cleft palate, or both. A cleft lip may just affect one side of the lip or there may be two clefts. It can range from a small notch to a wide gap that reaches the nose. A cleft palate may just be an opening at the back of the mouth, or it may be a split in the palate that runs all the way to the front of the mouth. Sometimes it can be hidden by the lining of the roof of the mouth.


Renuka, age 17 seen with her mother Anu and Father, Arjun, hailing from Vasco, Goa

Cleft lips and cleft palates can sometimes cause a number of issues, particularly in the first few months, before surgery is carried out. Problems that can occur include: Difficulty feeding – babies with a cleft palate may be unable to breastfeed or feed from a normal bottle because they can’t form a good seal with their mouth hearing problems – some babies with a cleft lip are more vulnerable to ear infections and a build-up of fluid in their ears (glue ear), which may affect their hearing Dental problems – a cleft lip and palate can mean a child’s teeth don’t develop correctly and they may be at a higher risk of tooth decay; speech problems – if a cleft palate isn’t repaired, it can lead to speech problems such as unclear or nasal-sounding speech when a child is older.

Most of these problems will improve after surgery and with treatments such as speech and language therapy. Causes of cleft lip and palate – A cleft lip or palate happens when the structures that form the upper lip or palate fail to join together when a baby is developing in the womb. The exact reason why this doesn’t happen in some babies is often unclear. It’s very unlikely to have been the result of anything you did or didn’t do during pregnancy. In a few cases, cleft lip and palate is associated with: the genes a child inherits from their parents (although most cases are a one-off); smoking during pregnancy or drinking alcohol during pregnancy obesity during pregnancy a lack of folic acid during pregnancy taking certain medicines in early pregnancy, such as some anti-seizure medications and steroid tablets.


Fareeda, age 18 seen with her mom, Sameera and dad, Moideen, hailing from Kannur, Kerala. Both these girls were earlier treated by Dr Naveen Rao, and they will undergo a full surgery for their complete recovery at the newly opened Cleft Lip and Palate centre at FMMCH.

The main treatments are: Surgery – surgery to correct a cleft lip is usually carried out at 3-6 months and an operation to repair a cleft palate is usually performed at 6-12 months feeding support – you may need advice about positioning your baby on your breast to help them feed, or you might need to feed them using a specially-designed bottle monitoring hearing – babies born with cleft palates have a higher chance of glue ear, which may affect hearing; close monitoring of their hearing is important and if glue ear affects their hearing significantly, a hearing aid may be fitted or small tubes called grommets may be placed in their ears to drain the fluid; speech and language therapy – if your baby is born with a cleft affecting their palate (cleft palate or cleft lip and palate) a speech and language therapist will monitor your child’s speech and language development throughout their childhood; they will help with any speech and language problems as necessary; Good dental hygiene and orthodontic treatment – you’ll be given advice about looking after your child’s teeth, and braces may be needed if their adult teeth don’t come through properly

The majority of children treated for cleft lip or palate grow up to have completely normal lives. Most affected children won’t have any other serious medical problems and treatment can normally improve the appearance of the face and resolve issues such as feeding and speech problems. Surgery to repair the cleft may leave a small pink scar above the lips. This will fade over time and become less noticeable as your child gets older. Some adults who’ve had a cleft lip or palate repair may be self-conscious or unhappy about their appearance. Will a cleft lip and palate happen again? Most cleft lips and palates are a one-off and it’s unlikely you’ll have another child with the condition. The chances of another child being born with a cleft or of a parent passing the condition to their child can be higher in cases related to genetic conditions.

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