As Liberia celebrates World Clubfoot Day, the head of the Liberia clubfoot program, calls for more support to the program. Clubfoot is a medical deformity in which the foot appears twisted and even looks as if it’s upside down. Despite its appearance, clubfoot itself doesn’t cause any discomfort or pain.
Though the cause of clubfoot is still medically unknown despite the deformity being in existence for several decades, babies with clubfoot are usually otherwise healthy. On June 3rd clubfoot families and healthcare workers around the globe celebrated World Clubfoot Day. The date was chosen to commemorate the birth date of Dr. Ignacio Ponseti, (1914-2009) developer of the Ponseti Method to treat clubfoot.
Speaking here Wednesday, June 3, 2020 at program marking the observance of the day, the Executive Director of the Faith Clinical Orthopedic Rehabilitation Center (FACORC), Mr. Augustine B. Chiewolo, said Liberia is path of the global clubfoot treatment program.
FACORC is a non-profit humanitarian organization that runs the Liberia clubfoot program through Ponseti Method (non-surgical method).Mr. Chiewolo said though the program has made enormous gains, as it has been able to treat over 3,000 children, there is a need for government’s support or takeover to make its activities more national.
“Liberia is being recognized globally for the program. More than 3,000 have been treated under this program. The goal is to raise awareness for the deformity. It’s a congenital deformity; meaning, children are born with it. Those children born with it cannot wear normal shoes or slippers. They are always stigmatized and they don’t take part in public activities but the good news is that here in Liberia, clubfoot is treatable free of charge,” he said.
“Our only regret is that despite all of these gains, the government has done nothing to help the program. We have engaged both past and current government, but nothing is being done. But we are not going to get tired. We are again calling the government help. We want the program to be turned over to the government so that we can nationalize clubfoot program. It must be among the health policies of the government so that a greater number is treated.”
Mr. Chiewolo disclosed that the program is currently operating in nine of Liberia’s 15 counties. Madam Miraculous K. Kota, who served as guest speaker at the occasion, joined the many voices to call on policymakers, including government to focus more attention to the program so that many children can be treated.
“In a critical time in the history of the world, people with clubfoot are among the most vulnerable groups who are much more likely to contract the coronavirus; if much care and attention are not given them by governments, and other civil society organizations in ensuring that they get equal treatment, as other non-disabled persons, it would be bad for us,” said the guest speaker.
Madam Kota cautioned, “If the virus is to be eradicated, it is essential that people with disabilities especially those who fall in this category be protected and given the right medical care they need.” For his part, Rev. Dr. Shadrack R.A. Bryant, Religious Director of the clubfoot program, like earlier speakers, urged the government to aid the program.
“This is not an individual program, rather it’s a national one and so there is a need for government’s support. I want to thank the vision bearer and support staff for this great initiative. It is our hope and aspiration that the program rolls out to the remaining counties through government’s support,” Dr. Bryant expressed.