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Let's help 200,000 kids stay healthy

Try and imagine being born into extreme poverty- with a disability like clubfoot. Now, on top of all of the other challenges you’ll face in your life you have to deal with this. What would that be like?

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

If you haven’t heard of clubfoot before, or your only reference is from dramatic commercials asking for your donation, then let’s rewind a bit. Clubfoot is a congenital birth defect that occurs when the tendons connecting the leg muscles and the foot bones are short and tight. As a result, the the foot is turned inwards.

Clubfoot is considered relatively common as it occurs in approximately 1 in 750 births. According to the Global Clubfoot Initiative, 150,000-200,000 babies are born with the disability every year. That’s the bad news, but here’s the good news: treatment is available.

It’s called the Ponseti method. It’s non-invasive, low-cost, and has a 98% success rate according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Basically the child’s foot, or feet, are aligned with the application of a series of casts. Sounds simple, right? It is- and for that reason it’s virtually a non-issue in the developed world.

In the developing world, however, that’s not the case. The Global Clubfoot Initiative reports that of the babies born with clubfoot, “80% of these will be in low and middle income countries. Most of these babies will not receive effective treatment for their clubfoot and will grow up with severe disability as a consequence.” Which begs the question- with inexpensive treatment available, why is clubfoot still a thing?

Miraclefeet founder Chesca Colloredo-Mansfeld explains that people affected by clubfoot in developing countries often face two barriers: a lack of healthcare providers trained to treat clubfoot, and a lack of knowledge that the disability is treatable in the first place. Consequently, children with clubfoot face an assortment of challenges apart from difficulty getting around. Like other disabilities in the developing world, children with clubfoot will likely miss out on school because they cannot walk the distance. They may be left at home and ostracized from their communities, and they are at a much higher risk of neglect as well as physical and sexual abuse. That’s a recipe for disaster, that’s likely to sentence the affected to a life of poverty.

For this reason, the International Collaboration for Essential Surgery (ICES) is working hard to ensure that all people, regardless of their geography, have access to basic surgical interventions. There’s absolutely no reason that children should grow up with debilitating conditions like clubfoot when affordable treatments exist.

It’s time that clubfoot and other easily preventable conditions are a thing of the past. Join me and sign ICES’ petition to get involved.