By Fru Rita Ngum
West Regional Delegate of Public Health has applauded the CBC Health Services for their significant contribution to health service provision in general and more specifically for introducing the Cameroon Clubfoot Care Project (CCCP) which is evidently impacting the lives of many children in Cameroon.The regional delegate was speaking while officially opening a 3 day workshop on the Ponseti Technique in treating clubfoot organized by the CCCP, which held from August 24- 26, 2017at SARE Hotel in Bafoussam.
The regional delegate noted that from 2014 to date more than 550 children identified with clubfoot have accessed the Ponseti treatment option with 25% of them coming from the West Region. According to him, 17 children with clubfoot are presently on treatment in the Bafoussam Baptist Integrated Health Centre and the Bafoussam Regional Hospital.
The workshop brought together 29 Physiotherapy (PT) staff from 16 health facilities that are in partnership with the project in the West, Littoral, Center, Northwest and Southwest Regions with the objective of training them on the Ponseti technique of treating clubfoot.
Facilitating, CCCP Clinical Supervisor, Dr. Henry Ndasi said that the Ponseti technique has two phases of treatment; the correction and maintenance phases. He stated that for successful results to be achieved using the Ponseti technique, the treatment must go through four steps; manipulation, casting, bracing and tenotomy. Dr. Ndasi regretted that even though clubfoot deformity is a preventable disability, many children are still found in the communities with clubfoot, reason why the project is training the PT staff to meet up with the increased no of children with clubfoot in the community.
For his part, the Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr. Nana Christopher drilled participants on tenotomy given that it is one of the most important steps in the ponseti technique. He stressed that tenotomy can only be done by trained Orthopedic Surgeons but educated the participants on when it can be done in the treatment process.
Given that the PT staff have an important role to play in the encouragement of compliance from the parents, the Assistant Physiotherapist from Banso Baptist Hospital, Mr. Fanfon Timothy noted that parents must be told the consequences of relapse and the importance of their commitment to treatment before the commencement of treatment. He explained that once relapse occurs with the Ponseti method, the treatment will begin again from start causing more pain, time and cost on the parents. He demonstrated on how to use the braces which PT staff are expected to educate the parents on how to use them.
For his part, the Physiotherapist from Mbingo Baptist Hospital, Mr. Nkwenti Alfred schooled the PT staff on the different types of clubfoot which are; untreated, idiopathic complex and treated clubfoot.
The highpoints of the workshop was a practical session during which PT staff especially the ones attending the workshop for the first time had the opportunity to access and start treatment on the feet of the 2 out of the 4 children that were present for treatment. The facilitators supervised the practical sessions during which they identified the little mistakes that could be done in the treatment process and addressed them.
During the counselling part of the treatment, the parents of these children explained that they were depressed when they gave birth to the children because they knew it can never be treated. They testified that they felt relieved when the CBCHS Community Based Rehabilitation field worker and some CCCP staff visited them and assured them that the feet of their children can be treated.
In his presentation on how to ensure quality outcomes, the Project Manager, Mr. Awa Jacques Chirac encouraged the PT staff to institute a clubfoot clinic day in their clinics and also to create a parent support group for parents of children born with clubfoot to encourage compliance.
The workshop, which was highly participatory, was different from those organized in the previous years given that the basic and advanced courses were handled. Participants shared that they were going back home with an advanced knowledge on Ponseti method.
At the close of the workshop, Dr. Nana Christopher called on the participants to be true ambassadors of the Ponseti technique by treating every child with clubfoot deformity who comes to their facilities.
With the increased number of treatment clinics from 4 in the previous phase to 19 in this present phase and with the training of more PT staff it is hoped that gradually the prevalence of clubfoot in Cameroon will reduce.