World Clubfoot Day is celebrated every June 3 around the world to create and increase awareness of clubfoot, a deformity that twists the ankle inward and causes the foot to turn downward, making walking difficult and painful.
The birth defect, a major cause of physical disability affecting 9.8 million people globally, arises from the poor development of a baby’s ankle bones, muscles, and tendons in the womb.
The exact cause is unknown, but experts say a combination of genetic and environmental factors, like a family history of clubfoot, smoking and certain medications during pregnancy, increase the risk.
In Nigeria, yesterday (June 2), ahead of the global commemoration, The Straight Child Foundation, a local nonprofit providing free treatment to children with cerebral palsy and clubfoot in partnership with MiracleFeet, a US-based charity supporting and strengthening the capacity of over 300 local clinics globally to deliver free and quality treatment clubfoot treatment, stormed the streets and markets to highlight the importance of early detection, referral, and timely treatment.
“The position of their feet is the only medical obstacle preventing most children with clubfoot from living fully functional, productive lives. Left untreated, this disability makes walking extremely difficult and painful,” The Straigthe Child Foundation said in a statement to Prime Progress after the street storm in Umuahia, Abia State.
But “With proper treatment, more than 95% can achieve full correction and mobility. Without treatment, children live with severe impairment and endure a lifetime of negative health, social, and economic consequences.”
Since 2018, MiracleFeet has supported the Straight Child Foundation in setting up about six clubfoot clinics that provide free non-surgical treatment across Nigeria using the Ponseti method, acclaimed to be the world’s most effective treatment option.
“In Nigeria, 11,390 children are born with clubfoot each year. The Straight Child Foundation is the MiracleFeet partner responsible for collaborating with local healthcare providers in Nigeria to deliver high-quality, no-cost clubfoot care. Over time the goal is for treatment to be integrated into the public health system,” the statement said.
“Clubfoot is correctable with the Ponseti method. Treatment involves a series of weekly casts to gently reposition the feet and a simple outpatient procedure to release the Achilles tendon, followed by a foot abduction brace, worn for 4-5 years while sleeping to maintain the correction and reduce the chance of relapse. When initiated during infancy, the foot’s position is usually corrected within six to eight weeks.”
The Straight Child Foundation said nearly 1600 children have been treated in those clinics, so during the street and market storm, it used the chance to celebrate the successes of those who have received and provided treatment in Nigeria.