Meenakshi Mission Hospital completes 11,000 free cleft lip & palate surgeries

This is the highest number of cleft lip and palate repair surgeries conducted by any hospital in India beyond the main metros


Madurai: Madurai’s Meenakshi Mission Hospital has crossed the milestone of 11,000 free cleft lip and palate surgeries for children and adults since it initiated the program in 2003 in association with the world’s leading cleft charity, Smile Train, USA. This is the highest number of cleft and palate surgeries conducted by any hospital in the country beyond the main metros.

Said Dr S Gurushankar, Chairman of the 1,000-bed Meenakshi Mission Hospital, Madurai: “Crossing the milestone of 11,000 free cleft lip and palate surgeries is a very proud and satisfying moment for us at Meenakshi Mission Hospital. We have been conducting an average of two free cleft and palate repair surgeries every day, with most patients hailing from rural areas. However, the scale of the problem is huge. Every year, 35,000 children in India are born with a cleft / palate anomaly. There are more than 10 lakh untreated cases in the country, with majority of patients from poor background.”

Without corrective surgery, children with untreated cleft face a lifetime of isolation, humiliation and suffering. They cannot eat or speak properly, and have difficulty going to school. Many are abandoned or even killed at birth. Added Dr S Gurushankar: “Most parents don’t realize that a cleft lip or palate correction is a minor surgical procedure which hardly takes 45 minutes. However, a large proportion of such parents are not able to afford surgery. This is where free cleft lip and palate surgery programs like ours are immensely helpful to the society, with life-altering effects for the child.”

In 2014, the Meenakshi Mission Hospital performed a total of 778 cleft lip and palate surgeries for free, followed by 640 in 2015 and 808 in 2016. It provides free surgeries with grant assistance from Smile Train. Children are given free treatment, free investigations, free stay and free food three times a day. Additional services like speech therapy, 24-hour nursing care, counselling and rehabilitation are also available free of cost.