It was recently revealed that the Ministry of Health and Sanitation has maintained that it has treated over 803 affected children with clubfoot over the years, a curable condition which affects the ankle of young children, causing discomfort and eventually deformity if early treatment is not initiated.
This was disclosed at the occasion marking the celebration of World Clubfoot Day on Monday 3rd June at the National Rehabilitation Centre, Aberdeen in Freetown. The celebration centered on the theme “Changing the lives of Children with Clubfoot in Sierra Leone”
In his keynote address, Director of the Directorate of Non Communicable Diseases & Mental Health, Dr. Santigie Sesay said that according to a research 150,000 – 200,000 children are born with clubfoot each year globally; adding that global incidence is at 1-2 children per every 100 life birth and that if the figures are juxtaposed one would realize that Sierra would account for 275-300 children born with clubfoot per year.
Dr. Santigie boasted that among the 803 admitted cases of clubfoot for the past 5 years, 400 of these affected children have completed their treatment and now with their relatives continuing their schooling.
He reiterated that, normally when mothers give birth to children with clubfoot, there are lots of negative perceptions and traditional interpretations about them in the family and the communities, adding that they are also called names like demons, which crafts, evil spirit which he noted are some of the problems that lead to neglect of these children and abandonment by their parents/relatives.
“Mothers of these children feel ashamed in public and in most cases have to cover the feet of their children, which is so disappointing” Dr. Santigie explained
Coordinator National Clubfoot Programme, Bindi Saffa, stated that clubfoot treatment is available at the Ola During Children’s Hospital- Cottage, Koidu Government Hospital, Port-Loko Government Hospital, Bo Government Hospital, Makeni Government Hospital and the National Rehabilitation Centre at Aberdeen.
Mr. Bindi continued that, though they are faced with numerous challenges their vision is to ensure that children born with clubfoot in Sierra Leone are treated and free from deformity/morbidity.
“Currently, 45% of children born with clubfoot are treated in Sierra Leone and by 2030 we want at least 70% of children with clubfoot to be treated,” Mr. Bindi added.
Mr. Bindi ended that there is no known cause of clubfoot and that it is heredity which can be a trace in the family, adding that clubfoot is tradeable and that people should not associate it with misconceptions, myths or any traditional misinterpretations, as it is biological which can be addressed medically with early treatment.
The mother of 4 year old Patrick Bangura who was born with clubfoot explained that she and her husband were so depressed and anxious when they discovered that their son had been born with clubfoot, adding that they were shy as their neighbours began to gossip her and her son.
She continued to explain that other relatives advised them to take his son to traditional healer but could no heed to the advice and that they massaged her son’s feet for some weeks but there was no improvement.
She noted that her son was aided when she travelled to Freetown for medical advice where her son was treated and now happily going to school.