Taking steps to treat clubfoot

2018-09-28 14:52
A baby with clubfoot having his plaster casts put on at a Steps clubfoot partner clinic in Cape Town.

A baby with clubfoot having his plaster casts put on at a Steps clubfoot partner clinic in Cape Town.

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Around 100 children are given a life-changing treatment in Cape Town every year.

These children, born with clubfoot, are aided with a non-invasive treatment advocated by an Oranjezicht non-profit organisation called Steps.

Steps was founded in 2005 and born of a mother’s love.

Founder Karen Moss gave birth to a baby boy with clubfoot in 2003, and in her journey to find a non-surgical treatment her family travelled to the USA to undergo treatment with Dr Ignacio Ponseti.

“Inspired by the successful treatment of her son, she established Steps to work towards the goal of every child in South Africa born with clubfoot having access to effective clubfoot treatment. Untreated clubfoot is a permanent disability for life. Early diagnosis and effective treatment eliminates disability and allows these children to wear shoes, run and play with their friends and go to school,” explains Luke Engel, marketing manager for Steps.

Moss brought this treatment, known as the Ponseti method, to South Africa. Steps has introduced the Ponseti method to South Africa and over 500 medical professionals have been trained in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and the Seychelles.

“The Ponseti method is endorsed as best practice by the South African Paediatric Orthopaedic Society and taught in all medical schools,” explains Engel.

Children born with clubfoot are unable to walk, run or play due to their feet being rotated inwards or downwards or legs being unequal lengths.

Around 2000 South African children are born with clubfoot every year, but less than 10% of these children have access to health insurance or means to pay for treatment, says Engel.

“The Steps clubfoot care programme is designed to integrate into the public health system, which makes it sustainable and cost effective. We support 28 clubfoot clinics in the state sector with whatever is needed to fill in the gaps – parent education, data capture, materials, clubfoot braces and refresher training. We also run advocacy and awareness campaigns to educate the community that clubfoot is treatable and to bring children in for treatment. More than 10 000 children have accessed the Ponseti method in South Africa since our first Ponseti training workshop in 2006.”

Two of these clinics run at Tygerberg Hospital and Maitland Cottage Orthopaedic Children’s Hospital, he explains.

“Around 100 new patients are enrolled every year and about 270 in different stages of treatment visit the clinics weekly, monthly or for check-ups: About 8000 clinic visits over a year. The kids are seen by the medical teams at these state-supported hospitals and Steps provides staff who do parent education, data capture and admin, as well as supplying materials such as clubfoot braces to support sustainable, successful treatment.

“It is critical that the babies have early treatment and at a clubfoot clinic that specialises in the treatment.”

This month, Steps is calling on the public to show their support through the “Steptember” campaign.

The campaign aims to raise R50 000 to assist in funding clubfoot operations; training doctors, parent education, clinic support and clubfoot brace distribution, through a crowdfunding campaign on Backabuddy. For every R2500 raised, Steps is able to support the full treatment of one child.

“[We hope to raise] awareness that clubfoot is treatable. We want people to know that they should seek care as early as possible for best results, and to remove stigmas and beliefs. It’s about encouraging the public to get healthy and active for a cause – raising awareness that clubfoot is treatable and funds that will help children to walk, run and play with their friends,” adds Engel.

For more information, visit steps.org.za or sign up at the BackaBuddy page: form.jotformeu.com/72543433309353.


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