Eradicating Clubfoot in Belize
Children in many developing countries who suffer from clubfoot, a birth defect in which the foot is twisted out of shape or position, often go without corrective treatment, walking on their ankles or sides of their feet; these children remain disabled for life. Others are treated surgically and often require a series of surgeries across the lifetime to handle recurrence of the condition; these patients often complain of stiff and painful feet. Neither of these options provides top quality care to children in need. Instead, the Ponseti casting technique offers full correction through a series of foot manipulations and non-surgical plaster casts, and it is widely considered the most effective treatment for clubfoot. World Pediatric Project strives to provide this top quality of care to our children in Belize, Central America.
World Pediatric Project noticed a growing need in Belize for this type of orthopedic care and partnered with US-based and Belize-based organizations to design and implement a corrective casting program in Belize. World Pediatric Project partnered closely with Ponseti International Association, CARE Belize, the Ministry of Health of Belize, CURE International, and the administration and staff of the country’s main referral medical center, Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital. Sharing the administration of the program, the groups trained four Belizean medical practitioners in the technical casting method and devised and launched a sustainable plan for their casting children in Belize with clubfoot on an ongoing basis.
“The Ponseti Method not only produces better results than the traditional surgical method, it is a small fraction of the cost – – potentially bringing treatment within reach for every child,” said Susan Rickman, World Pediatric Project President.
According to Dr. Jose Morcuende, the world’s leading expert in clubfoot, clubfoot is no longer a long term concern in Belize thanks to this collaborative effort.
In addition to the Ponseti casting program, World Pediatric Project sends pediatric orthopedic surgery mission teams to Belize on an annual basis to collaborate with the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital staff in addressing other orthopedic conditions besides clubfoot. World Pediatric Project’s partnerships with Rotary-based Belize Children’s Program and bracing partner Project Hope widen the scope of children able to receive timely care.