Agartala: Its personnel guard the borders in rain and shine. Now the Border Security Force (BSF) is touching the lives of people in the east and northeast in a rather unique way - by teaming with the Indian branch of a US-based medical NGO to treat children with cleft lips and palates to bring smiles to them.

The surgeries, which are performed free, would normally cost Rs.40,000 to Rs.50,000.

"Children with cleft lips and palates would be treated in the medical camps being organised along India's international borders where our troopers have been posted," BSF chief public relations officer B.S. Rawat said.

The mission to treat children with cleft lips and palates was launched by BSF Director General Subhash Joshi in January in Kolkata. Medical camps would now be organised along the borders.

A day-long camp was organised at the BSF's Composite Hospital at the Tripura frontier headquarters at Salbagan. Nine cases were surgically rectified free of cost by a medical team from Kolkata, giving the children a new lease of life and a smile on their faces.

BSF Additional Director General B.D. Sharma inaugurated the camp, organised by the BSF Wives Welfare Association, NGO Smile Train and the Rotary Club of Kolkata.

"Once the BSF identifies cases and moves them to surgical points, a team from the Bhagwan Mahavir Cleft Foundation, led by Kamlesh Kothari, takes over. While a similar surgery would cost between Rs.40,000 to Rs.50,000, it is totally free under this project," Rawat added.

Funds for organising surgical and medical camps are being provided by Smile Train and the Rotary Club.

The next phase of surgeries are planned in Kolkata where cases from the border villages of North 24-Parganas in West Bengal will be operated on.

Northeast India has the highest number of cases of cleft lips and palates. According to experts, about 30,000 children in India are born with cleft lips and palates every year and less than 50 percent of them go for treatment.


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