-Liberia clubfoot program Founder Cries out to GoL for Intervention

By Mark N. Mengonfia

Liberia continues to face lots of challenges since the end of the many years of civil unrest which impacted every sector of the country, including education, agriculture, road infrastructure, and health, among others.

Outbreaks of Ebola, Corona Virus Disease, Cholera, and AIDS among others are notable health crisis occasioned the postwar era.

Since then, the governments of Liberia have sought supports from partners to help invest in these sectors, targeting key areas, but less or no attention to the plight of children born with the health condition of clubfoot or clubfeet.

According to Mayo Clinic, clubfoot is a congenital condition in which the foot or feet turn inward and downward. It is the most common deformity of the leg and affects about 1 in 1,000 births

The condition can be idiopathic, neurogenic, or syndromic, depending on the cause.

The good news is that it can be treated with the Ponseti method, [a nonsurgical technique that involves stretching and casting the foot to correct its position]

According to Global Clubfoot initiative, 170 children are born in Liberia each year with a condition of clubfoot but most of those kids are not catered to.

To revert the number of kids growing up with such a condition, Augustine B. Chiewolo, founder and executive director of the Liberia Clubfoot Program established Faith Clinical Orthopedic Rehabilitation Center.

In an interview recently, Rep. Chiewolo said he decided to introduce an initiative to help kids in such a condition (FACORC) having noticed, twelve years ago, that not much attention was given to children born with clubfoot.

According to him, they saw the need to treat kids with said deformities to give them a chance to a better life.

FACORC, according to the Lofa County District 5 lawmaker, came into being as a result of a research work done by Rev. Dr. Bannie Wonyon, Program coordinator for the Liberia clubfoot program and him.

“I work with, the program coordinator for Liberia clubfoot program and so we decided to do something different in Liberia” he said.

Rep. Chiewolo who by profession is a physician assistant, a public health technician, and social worker, who has 25 years of experience in both public and private sectors said, “I thought it wise that at a certain point of time, I should be able to give back to the community, I should be able to get a retirement job so I began to search after the post war period.”

Giving justification why he established the Liberia Clubfoot Program, Rep. Chiewolo said there were lots of organizations that came providing services for malnutrition, HIV/AIDS, STIs but they did not have program for clubfoot.

At the time the two Liberian conducted the research, they found out that Dr. Kpoto was the only orthopedic technician at that time in Liberia and he was doing surgery on clubfoot.

“So we looked at the sposetic method, it is a method that requires people with passion, we initiated it not knowing where we were heading” he said.

The team’s intention was to help on grounds that children that were born with clubfoot were not being taken care of in Liberia because not many of the families could afford to go to Ghana, Nigeria or other places to have treatment.

Since the program was launched by the former Minister of Health, Dr. Braince Dahn, they have been seeking for government’s support but all efforts have proved fruitless as those at the Ministry of Health show little or no interest in the program.

To date, the program has extended to eleven (11) of Liberia’s fifteen (15) counties through their efforts and help from their partner, MiracleFeet.

He said over the years, MiracleFeet has helped provide treatment and schooling for kids who are enrolled in the Liberia Clubfoot program, a program he said has impacted lives and given testimonies to parents.

“We started right in Montserrado and one of our first patients is Teah. Since then the program has gained momentum, parents have seen the results and we tried to go around the country” he said.

With their present in 11 counties now, the health worker now lawmaker wants the government to take over the program to be named and styled, “The Liberia National Clubfoot Program.”

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