The 12-member team of Mission Myanmar is back to Manipur on Friday after successfully carrying out cleft and palate operations free of charge to 87 patients at the general hospital at Monywa in Sagaing region of Myanmar. Disclosing this to journalists on Saturday Dr. Palin K., the chairman and managing director of Shija hospital, Imphal said that this medical camp will go a long way in improving India-Myanmar ties.

During the operations, the Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi, who is touring the Sagaing region of Myanmar, visited the hospital to express his appreciation and thanks to the team.

Dr. Palin said that mission is a triangular effort of the Indian consulate in Myanmar, Smile Train New York and Shija Hospital in Imphal. There were six doctors in the 12-member team. Instruments and medicines were taken from Imphal.

It is estimated that at least 1,00,000 cleft and palate patients are in Myanmar. The operations to the 87 patients were done from May 24 to 28, 2013. The team members left Imphal on May 22, 2013. They were flagged off by the Deputy Chief Minister Gaikhangam Golmei. It may be recalled that Shija hospital had started the Smile Train project in June 2006. So far, 3,600 successful operations have been completed.

Dr. Palin said that the cleft and palate surgeries are a continuing process and there will be many operations by such missions in the future.

The government of Myanmar had invited the members of the Smile Train Shija Cleft Project for corrective surgeries in the hospital at Monywa. The government informed the Shija hospital that at least 150 patients are waiting for the team.

Myanmarese nationals on the western part of the country do not have access to modern healthcare facilities. These people, mostly ethnic tribals, have been coming to the government hospital at Moreh, Manipur's border town in Chandel district, for treatment. After diagnosis they buy medicines from the Moreh market since they aren’t available across the border.

Dr. Ne Oo is a medical graduate from Myanmar. For political reasons he and his father were hounded by the Army. He fled to Moreh soon after the 1988 pro-democracy upheaval. He opened a private clinic in a tin-roofed two-room rented house at Moreh with four beds. He told The Hindu that poor people who come from across the border are treated in his clinic. He does not demand money since he knows that most of them cannot pay. He sometimes gets a chicken, pumpkin and other vegetables from grateful patients.

The government has plans to make these foreign nationals to have easy access to modern healthcare in Manipur. The Manipur government is making arrangements to issue visa on arrival to these foreign nationals. In the absence of such a facility, Myanmarese nationals who are found inside Manipur are arrested. Now, 20 nationals including lactating mothers are in prison facing trial. Some Manipuri settlers in Myanmar who wanted to visit Imphal were not permitted to come. However, they were allowed to present traditional religious dance at Kondong Lairembi near the international border during a religious festival.