Gambia: Rights And Welfare of Persons With Disabilities, the Vulnerable And Less Privilege

Updates on the ongoing Free Weekly Clubfoot Treatment Program at Kanifing and Banjul Hospitals

Introduction:

In this edition of Rights & Welfare of Persons with Disabilities, the Vulnerable and the Less Privileged - we bring to you updates on the ongoing Gambia Clubfoot

Foundation Weekly Treatment Programme at the Serekunda General Hospital in Kanifing and the Edward Francis Teaching Hospital in Banjul.

Many people believe Clubfoot is a curse, and such victims are only good to be beggars to earn a living. However, the new programme is advocating that Clubfoot is treatable, and it's being treated.

The Gambia Clubfoot Foundation conducts weekly Clubfoot Clinics starting at 9am at the Serekunda General Hospital in Kanifing, and thereafter proceeds to the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital (EFSTH) in The Gambian Capital - Banjul, after attending their patients in Kanifing.

Ibou Camara the Founder of the Gambia Clubfoot Foundation is coordinating the treatment program with his team, whom he trained, after acquiring such skills during his studies in the UK.

The weekly Clinics are conducted through partnership with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of The Gambia, financially supported by Miraclefeet Foundation in the USA, to provide free Clubfoot treatment in The Gambia.

Information obtained from 'Miraclefeets' Website indicate that "Clubfoot affects one out of every 800 children worldwide, making it one of the most common birth defects in the world. In low- and middle-income countries, children living with untreated clubfoot face incredible hurdles in their whole lives. Along with stigma and discrimination, they are often left alone and hidden away because the family is ashamed. They are among the least likely to enjoy the benefits of education and healthcare. Even worse, children with clubfoot are subject to higher risks of neglect, poverty, physical, and sexual abuse.

"MiracleFeet increases access to proper treatment for children born with clubfoot in low- and middle-income countries in partnerships with local healthcare providers, for free. Over 90% of supported clinics are located in public hospitals.

"Founded by parents of children born with clubfoot in the US, MiracleFeets has helped changed the lives of more than 40,000 children in 27 different countries," foundation states in its Website.

Commenting on Clubfoot treatment in The Gambia during a recent visit by this Columnist to one of the clinics at the Kanifing Hospital- Alhagie Manneh, Lead Doctor and Surgeon of Clubfoot Management Team of Kanifing Hospital said ten patients turned up for treatment on that day, and there were 2 new patients received.

Dr Manneh added that some patients came all the way from Basse in the Upper River Region, in the far east of The Gambia, 372 Kilometres from the Capital- Banjul, and other parts of the country.

Pa Lamin Sawaneh- Peri- Operative Nurse, Caster and Manipulator said the program has been going on since February 2019 to date, weekly. Adding: "We have seen success stories in the treatments. We should have got this 10 years ago. ... Had we got this 20 years ago then The Gambia would have been free from these kinds of disabilities, in which patients end up being beggars; and their families being associated with witches," said Mr Sawaneh.

Mr Camara the Founder of The Gambia Clubfoot Foundation based at President Award Scheme in Bakau, said Clubfoot treatment takes about 6 weeks, during which treatments are administered through operations.

He said patients are treated weekly, adding that they are registering progress. He expressed hope to extend the treatment programmes to other parts of the country, starting with Brikama- West Coast Region in 2020.

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