Guwahati: The Cleft Care Surgical Mission in Assam has completed 5,000 surgeries on children in the last three years, making it probably the world's best such effort at restoring smile on the lips of the disadvantaged.

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has claimed that the Comprehensive Cleft Care Centre, being run under "Operation Smile" at the Mahendra Mohan Choudhury Hospital here in Guwahati, is the best in the world.

"The manner in which the team has been carrying the work on a missionary zeal, the day is not far off when Assam will become a completely cleft-free state," Gogoi felt.

The founder of Operation Smile International, Dr William P Magee, said the centre in Assam was the best among 13 such centres that Operation Smile currently runs in 13 countries across the globe.

"The fulfillment we experience after treating a young child is invaluable. The new cleft care ward also happens to be one of the best. We will always endeavour to carry on our efforts to restore the smiles of more such children,” Magee said.

The chairman of Operation Smile, India, Ranjit Borthakur, said that the Operation Smile aimed at providing treatment to 10,000 children with cleft deformities in the country during the next two years.

Doctors from 20 countries across different backgrounds have joined hands with local doctors and nurses with the mission to make Assam a cleft-free state and this is the best example of getting localised with global thinking.

“Moreover, the capacity creation at the cleft centre here will help Assam to provide cleft care delivery to countries like Myanmar, Bhutan, Bangladesh and others,” Borthakur said.

Assam Minister for Health and Family Welfare Himanta Biswa Sarma said the successful completion of 5,000 cleft surgeries in the State was a landmark achievement.

A Cleft Care Surgical ward was set up at the Mahendra Mohan Choudhury Hospital here at a cost of Rs 5.60 crore of which the Assam Government provided Rs 3.80 crore while the remaining was contributed by Max Bupa and Tata Trust.

One of the objectives of the facility would be to reduce the cost of surgery from Rs 1.20 lakh to Rs 8,000 in the near future.

Operation Smile began in January, 2009 in Assam and has till date treated 5,125 patients out of which 2,069 at the cleft care centre in Guwahati involving more than 1100 volunteers from India and other countries.

The target set for the next financial year was 3,000 patients.