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Help for cleft children in

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India country facts
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Over 780,000 girls and boys die before their fifth birthday each year in India (UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation, 2020). In absolute numbers, this is the highest child mortality worldwide.
Every year some 35,000 children in India are born with cleft lip and palate. Many families cannot afford the treatment these children need.
Some 80 percent of the Indian population has no health insurance and therefore no reliable access to medical care.
In 2021, we were able to provide for 3,271 cleft surgeries. More than 34,000 operations total since 2003 are the result of our work in India. In four cleft centers, the children receive not only the cleft surgery, but also many followup therapies, for even better results.
Our work in India would not be possible without our strong network of dedicated workers: some 150 doctors, nurses, therapists and project staff work to give cleft children a better life.
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Help needed

There are many cleft children in need of help in India. Some 35,000 children are born with cleft lip and / or palate every year in India. Many older children and even adults never got treatment and have to live with untreated clefts. They desperately need help. India has enjoyed great economic progress, but many Indians, especially in the rural areas, continue to live in deep poverty.

Of the 1.4 billion Indians, as many as 900 million still live in poverty. Children suffer the worst, and cleft children are particularly hard hit. Their visible disfigurement and their “different” looks often leave them cast out by their communities.

Cleft children in India: Difficult lives

Even the parents often falsely believe that the cleft is a punishment for a sin. Fathers sometimes leave the families to escape what they feel is an unbearable situation. Mothers are shamed for bringing the “curse” into the family. The children are hidden out of shame and have to live lonely lives of isolation. Often, the families do not know that the cleft can be healed.

But without treatment, the children face hard lives. One in twelve cleft children in India dies before their first birthday. They die from malnutrition and neglect, or from diseases they can’t survive in their weakened state. Only long-term aid and education can change this sad situation. This in turn requires the help of many committed partners in the communities, patience and commitment.

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Our partners in India

We have been providing help to cleft children in India since 2003. India is our largest project country: In most years, some 3,000 surgeries are carried out at more than 20 locations across India. In 2021, our teams provided 3,271 surgeries – even though they Covid was limiting the accessibility.

In Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Mysore, we offer comprehensive cleft therapy in addition to the basic surgery. Interdisciplinary teams including pediatricians, orthodontists, ear nose and throat specialists, psychotherapists and speech therapists help the patients before and after their surgeries.

Since 2015, our treatment offers for cleft children in India are being organized by our partner organization ABMSS (Akhila Bharatha Mahila Seva Samaja) in Bangalore. ABMSS is the contact for the head surgeons and their teams.

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Cleft Center Bangalore, Dr. Jayanth
Cleft center Mysore, Dr. Manu
Cleft center Kolkata, Dr. Siddhartha
Cleft center Hyderabad, Dr. Vijay
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Priorities of our work in India
Comprehensive care
“Comprehensive Cleft Care” is the term used in India for comprehensive cleft therapy. In addition to various surgical interventions, this includes speech and functional therapy, ear, nose and throat medicine, orthodontics, dentistry and psychotherapy. In Agra, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mysore and Nagpur we are pursuing this holistic therapeutic approach, which requires the involvement of the parents and thus close contact with the families.
Awareness work
Especially in the rural regions of India, cleft families often do not know anything about the causes and treatments for cleft. We raise awareness through broad educational work and draw attention to our offer of help. The recruitment of multipliers such as employees of hospitals and schools is very important, as well as directly addressing the population.
Nutrition programs
Good health and weight are prerequisites for safe surgery. Unfortunately, many cleft children in India are malnourished. This means that they get sick more easily, and they often grow more slowly. It is not unusual to see children who cannot walk at the age of 1.5. We provide special food before and after the operation to help these children. Another target group of our nutrition programs are the children’s mothers.
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Your donation for cleft children in India

Indians with cleft suffer greatly, particularly those in the many rural regions. Children with a cleft lip and palate have little chance of growing up normally. The surgery is a first step towards a better life. Please help the cleft children of India with your donation!

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Country portrait India

Modern Europeans became aware of the sea route around the southern tip of Africa to India in 1498 as a result of the exploratory journey of the Portuguese seafarer Vasco da Gama. British colonial rule in India began around 1600. In 1858, India officially became part of the British Empire, with Queen Victoria assuming the title of Empress of India. Pakistan and Bangladesh were then also part of Imperial India.

It was Mahatma Gandhi who led India to independence in 1947 with non-violent resistance. The Indian subcontinent was divided, two independent states emerged: Muslim Pakistan and India, which is predominantly inhabited by Hindus. On January 30, 1948, a radical Hindu murdered Mahatma Gandhi, who was committed to peace between religions throughout his life.

The name of India is derived from the Indus River, which is the longest river in India at 3,180 kilometers in length. Even better known than the Indus is India’s second largest river, the Ganges, which the Indians worship as a sacred river. The Himalayan Mountains in northern India are considered the seat of the gods. India borders Pakistan, Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and Bangladesh.
3,287,259.07 km²
Official languages
Hindi, English
Predominant religion
Indian Rupee
New Delhi

Despite its recent rapid economic growth, India remains a developing country. Some 80 percent of Indians have less than two dollars a day to live on, a third even less than one dollar. The majority of the poor population, around 95 percent, live in rural areas.