In line with success of India’s fight against Polio, President of India, Ram Nath Kovind urged the global medical fraternity including over 500 doctors from 29 Indian states gathered in New Delhi to attend the Global Clubfoot Conference to simply make clubfoot history by 2022.
“Clubfoot is one of the most common orthopaedic birth defects. It can cause permanent disability if not treated early. This affects the child’s mobility and confidence. Inevitably, education and schooling suffer – and the child cannot fulfil his or her potential. The irony is clubfoot is curable. It is estimated that over 50,000 children are born annually in India with clubfoot. The exact reasons for this congenital disability are not fully known. Till recently most children who suffered from clubfoot needed to be treated surgically. This was expensive for parents and traumatic for both the children and their families. Access to surgery was also difficult in rural areas. As such, many received no treatment. They were left to a lifetime of disability and stigma,” said President of India, while inaugurating the the first Global Clubfoot Conference to be held in India, and being organised by CURE International India Trust in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, and other partner institutions.
The said Global Clubfoot Conference had over 500 doctors from 29 Indian states and health specialists from approximately 20 countries. “In India the burden of disability affects more than 10 million people. The differently-abled or Divyang as we call them deserve equal opportunities in all avenues of life. Mainstreaming their social and professional experience is a commitment for all of us. Having said that, many of these disabilities are preventable or curable – which is often forgotten. Prevention, treatment and mainstreaming have to go in parallel,” shared Kovind.
Adding on with the example of polio, a disease that is sometimes confused with clubfoot, Kovind told that India is proud that we have eradicated new cases of poliomyelitis. “Polio was once a serious cause of loco-motor disability, but over the past six years we have not had a single case of paralytic poliomyelitis. This has been a major milestone in the history of public health not only in India but globally. It must motivate us to work towards eliminating other disabilities and other diseases. Certainly, it must motivate us to take on and defeat the challenge of clubfoot,” he said.
“We are indeed fortunate that a relatively recent method – the Ponseti method – has been developed to treat and correct clubfoot without surgery. This is now considered the gold standard in treating clubfoot. And it takes away the need for surgery. The question is of access. The Ponseti method and the treatment of clubfoot require that all children who suffer from it are able to get a full course of treatment. This also requires several years of follow-up. If we want to succeed, we have to treat this like a mission – as was the case with polio or earlier smallpox. By 2022, we simply have to make clubfoot history,” he added.