Experts raise alarm over babies born with clubfoot

Clubfoot is a condition in which a newborn's foot or feet appear to be rotated internally at the ankle. PHOTO/FILE. 

What you need to know:

  • The programmes’ medical adviser, Dr  Waiswa Gonzaga,  said clubfoot is a common birth defect in which a baby’s foot is twisted out of shape or position.

Medical experts under the National Clubfoot Programme Uganda have said more than 2,000 babies out of about 1.6 million children produced each year are born with clubfoot.

The programmes’ medical adviser, Dr  Waiswa Gonzaga,  said clubfoot is a common birth defect in which a baby’s foot is twisted out of shape or position.

During celebrations to mark the World Clubfoot Day in Kampala yesterday, Dr Gonzaga said the main cause of the deformity is not yet known but there are some theories to explain the condition although they are weak.

“In the largest percentage of these children, there is no associated factor that can be related to clubfoot and it doesn’t have any social status related to it,” Dr Olaro said. He said there is a genetic theory which relates to family history that if one had a baby with clubfoot, there are higher chances of having another with the same health condition.

Dr Gonzaga added that there are other theories such as mothers carrying many babies in the uterus, multiple pregnancies and having a first pregnancy since  the womb is still small.


However, he said the abnormality can be treated although they are currently receiving  42 percent in all the treatment centres across the country but are targeting 100 precent

Dr Charles Olaro, the director of clinical services, advised mothers to always attend antenatal care and give birth in hospitals. “The moment the child is identified there, these hospitals become referral trains and if managed early, then the complication [is better handled] ,’’ Dr Olaro said.

He said if left untreated, clubfoot affects the children walking to school, they suffer bullying, and others  are denied chances of going to school.

“The Ministry of Health has embraced this consent  method of management of clubfoot, which is less labour intensive. We have shifted the care from orthopaedic surgeons because we have very few, which we thought if trained, can be able to scale up,’ Dr Olaro said.

He added that the government is planning to expand the treatment centres from 28 to 32 in different regions to bring services closer to people.

The acting executive director of Mulago National Referral Hospital, Dr Rosemary Byanyima, said the preference is higher in males than females.

“That calls for action and sometimes a small percentage of these children born with clubfoot is hereditary but it comes out of other causes,’’  Dr Byanyima said.

The programme manager of Miracle feet East Africa, Mr Geoffrey Bisanda, said as main funders of the programme, they still find a challenge with parents who hide children relating it to witchcraft

“We call upon government to spread out the treatment across the country so parents can access treatment wherever they go because our target is that all children born with this defect access treatment,’’  Mr Bisanda.


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