LHASA - A US-based non-profit organization has teamed up with Chinese local health bureaus to provide free cleft lip and palate surgeries to 100 Tibetan children every year from 2012, health officials said.
The children will take a train from Tibet autonomous region to central province of Hunan for the surgery. The costs of screening in Tibet, surgery in Hunan and transporting the children and their parents are all covered in the program initiated by New York-based Smile Train, officials with Tibet's health bureau said.
The first group of 17 Tibetan children born with clefts left for Hunan Pediatric Hospital by train on Friday, the officials said, adding that few such patients in Tibet had been treated before due to the region's rough environment, poor medical conditions and the lack of health knowledge among parents in some remote areas.
Cleft lips and palates are a major problem in developing countries. People born with such issues mostly cannot eat or speak properly. They face very difficult lives filled with shame and isolation, pain and heartache. Their clefts usually go untreated because they are poor, Smile Train says on its website.