Former President A.P.J Abdul Kalam on Thursday urged people to join hands to provide treatment for one million children having cleft lip and palette problems and were awaiting surgery.

“One million children are waiting to be operated. One operation for cleft lip alone takes 45 minutes. There is a lot to be done... Doctors have to see if it is possible to reduce operation time by upgrading technology. With the partnership of more good hearted people, it is an achievable target,” he said.

Dr. Kalam was participating in a function organised by voluntary organisation “Smile Train” to commemorate 10 years of its free of cost operations in India, at the Meenakshi Mission Hospital and Research Centre here.

Pointing out that the train was providing free surgery to 2.5 lakh children with such problems, he lauded the organisation for fanning out to villages and convincing people that cleft lip was not a curse, but a minor problem that could be cured.

He urged doctors to treat patients with compassion, saying health care is a noble mission.

Later, interacting with doctors, he said he did not think he had completed any task to his full satisfaction during his tenure.

Asked which was the major issue that generated much debate during his tenure, he said “It is right to education... Now the government has made education compulsory till 14 years”.

On whether he thought a scientist alone should be the President when the country was developing in science and technology, he said the Constitution provided for how to select a President.

He also referred to the power crisis in the country, saying it could be met by using solar power, biofuel and nuclear power.

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