Cleft lip and/or palate is a birth difference which occurs when certain facial tissues do not fuse properly during fetal development. One in every 700 babies are born with a cleft globally. In India, it is estimated that more than 35,000 children are born with clefts, annually. While the incidence of cleft is related to the density of population, West Bengal alone sees about 2,500 births with cleft defects annually.
Children with untreated clefts not only live in isolation, but more importantly, face physical difficulties with eating, breathing, and speaking, and are prone to frequent ear infections. Less than 50% of children with clefts get treatment due to ignorance and poverty in India. They face social isolation, and many drop out of school due to speech-related learning problems, which in turn leads to loss of employment opportunities.
The Himalaya Drug Company, India’s leading Wellness Company, brings its flagship initiative – ‘Muskaan’ to West Bengal. Championing the cause of treating cleft for children in need, Himalaya Lip Care launched its campaign ‘Ek Mutho Hanshi’ in Kolkata today in collaboration with Smile Train, the world’s largest cleft charity, to provide free life-saving cleft surgeries to children.
The campaign is focused at spreading the joy of smiles. Padma Shri Usha Uthup, leading playback singer, heightened the spirit of the launch at the event by extending her support to the initiative.
Mr. Rajesh Krishnamurthy, Business Director-Consumer Products Division, The Himalaya Drug Company, kickstarted the event with great fervor. He commented, “This year, with our campaign ‘Ek Mutho Hanshi’, we are committed to raising awareness in West Bengal about cleft and the importance of early intervention to help children with clefts lead a happy and fulfilling life. Our Muskaan initiative truly reflects Himalaya’s brand vision – ‘Khush Raho Khushaal Raho’ to bring wellness and happiness in every home. Through this initiative, more than 550 children have received cleft surgery till date. Our endeavor is to continue transforming the lives of many more children with clefts and help them achieve their dreams.”
Talking about the brand’s association with this cause, Mr. Philipe Haydon, CEO, The Himalaya Drug Company, shares, “This initiative is very close to our hearts. We are dedicated and passionate about spreading happiness and wellness, not only through our products but also by supporting causes that change the lives of people. Muskaan focuses on creating awareness and providing access to free treatment.”
Key dignitaries, Ms. Mamta Carroll, Vice President & Regional Director for Asia, Smile Train, and Medical Experts – Dr. Parthapratim Gupta, Institute of Child Health, Kolkata, and Dr. SA Faizal, CAMRI Hospital, Bardhaman, also attended the event.
Smile Train India has introduced a helpline number, 1800-103-8301, where people can call to enquire about cleft and avail free medical intervention. Children with clefts not only face physical challenges, but also social challenges that affect their lives. Focusing on this issue, Ms. Carroll said, “Every year in India, more than 35,000 children are born with a cleft condition. They are unable to breathe, eat, and speak properly. There is a lack of awareness that cleft can often be treated with a safe 45-minute surgery. We are proud of our partnership with The Himalaya Drug Company, which has brought smiles to many children with clefts across India in the last five years.”
Adding her voice to the cause, Ms. Usha Uthup said, “Children are the future of our country. Nothing should hold them back from chasing their dreams. I am honored to be part of Muskaan, a meaningful and life-changing cause that is helping children lead a healthy, happy, and fulfilling life.”