December 8, 2023
CLUBFOOT TREATMENT — Daphne de Souza Luma Sorensen, Miracle Feet Project chief executive officer, greeted children born with clubfoot in Baguio and Benguet. Clubfoot is a deformity treatable with relatively low cost using the Ponseti method. Miracle Feet, an international group advocating Ponseti, has been partnering with PNGOC since 2018 and treating almost 2,500 children with clubfoot every year. — Mau Victa

Every child should be free from the disabilities due to clubfoot disease.

This is why non-government organizations are intensifying their awareness campaign and enhancing their linkage with the government to reach out to as much kids as possible and eliminate clubfoot disease, a congenital disease that limits a person’s ability to walk if not treated early.

Miracle Feet and the Philippine NGO Council on Population, Health and Welfare want to increase the number of families having access to the free treatment offered to those suffering from the condition. Clubfoot is a condition where one or both feet are turned down and inwards with the sole facing backwards.

Daphne Sorensen, chief executive officer of Miracle Feet U.S., said clubfoot disease affects one in every 800 babies globally and every child has the right to be treated from the disease that will cause them disability if left unaddressed.

Miracle Feet and PNGOC are intensifying the awareness campaign on clubfoot disease and the availability of clinics offering free treatment to the condition.

Dr. Rosalyn Flores, a Pediatric and Orthopaedic Surgeon and Training and Support Supervision Consultant of PNGOC, said the public, not only health professionals, should be aware of clubfoot disease. 

“We are not only targeting kids that are already born. We also want the midwives, barangay health workers, and the public to be aware of the disease so they would know where they can refer those with clubfoot disease,” Flores said.

She added if the public is aware of clubfoot disease, they would also know that it is treatable.

In the Cordillera, the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center (BGHMC) and the Benguet General Hospital have clinics that provide free treatment, including therapy and provision of braces and shoes to people with clubfoot disease regardless of their age.

BGHMC Medical Specialist II, Dr. Antonio Nicanor Suero, said there are 79 patients undergoing treatment at the BGHMC.

The clinic, he said, is equipped with well-trained health professionals and volunteers who attend to the needs of patients and their families.

He said the awareness of local government units is also a big help in reaching out to those with clubfoot disease as it helps in the dissemination of the existence of the program that provides free treatment.

Hyacinth Babag, site coordinator of Miracle Feet at the Benguet General Hospital, said when they launched Miracle Feet in the province, they met with the municipal health officers and informed them about the program.

She said this made the referral system from the different towns effective since the local health officers are aware.

“We want to intensify the awareness further. We educate health workers so they can identify symptoms and know where to refer,” she said.

There are 102 patients enrolled in the program in Benguet. Babag said majority of them are in the walking stage.

She added if a child with clubfoot disease is referred early, the treatment will be easier and this will help the child the chance to walk normally when they reach the time they already learned to walk.

The whole treatment of clubfoot can last as long as five years, according to Babag so if the child is treated early on, they will be spared from the difficulties they have to endure while learning to walk.

Sorensen said with the program that provides free treatment, there should be no reason for a child to suffer from the disease that affects around 2,700 newly born every year in the Philippines.

Miracle Feet provides free treatment to all patients regardless of their economic standing.

Parents and those who may know of a child with clubfoot disease may refer them to the Benguet General Hospital and BGHMC.

Babag said families need not worry about the cost because everything is provided for. The program offers transportation subsidies to indigent families. – Jane B. Cadalig