A workshop to train stakeholders from the West and Adamawa regions on the integrated approaches to manage disability from neglected clubfoot took place in Bafoussam, Cameroon on September 20, 2021. The high prevalence of clubfoot in these regions, with most of the cases neglected, as a result of no diagnoses, lack of facilities, ineffective treatment, and traditional beliefs influenced the choice of the participants.
Organized by the Clubfoot Care Project under the Socio-Economic Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (SEEPD) Program of the CBC Health Services, the one-day event aimed at creating awareness among major stakeholders on the general information about clubfoot, available treatment protocols, and getting their contributions to help mitigate clubfoot in their respective work domains.
Addressing the participants, the Divisional Delegate of Social Affairs for Noun, Makwet Moma Anne Odile, who herself is an exceptional identifier of clubfoot cases, greatly welcomed the training which comes at the right moment to enable more children to receive the care they need. According to her, she takes the engagement to work with her collaborators to ensure that information about clubfoot reaches out to the population who most of the time are ignorant about clubfoot. She noted the high prevalence of clubfoot in the Noun Division, most of which are neglected. The Divisional Delegate revealed that about 20 children and adults are received every 3 months with clubfoot.
In his presentation, the Coordinator of the Cameroon Clubfoot Care Project, Mr. Tamon James revealed that clubfoot statistics are high both at the national and global levels. He posited that about one thousand children are born with clubfoot in Cameroon every year and an estimated 174, 0000 cases are born with clubfoot globally each year (GCI, 2017).
In 2019, the Cameroon Government embraced the initiative of clubfoot care for no child with clubfoot to be left behind. Thanks to this recognition of the importance of clubfoot care, the Government is working to make sure that Orthopaedic surgeons and Physiotherapists get trained to use the Ponseti Method to treat clubfoot in the six approved treatment clinics.
Enlightening participants on the new phase of the Clubfoot care project, Mr. Tamon elaborated on its objective which is to improve access to quality clubfoot care for 1600 new cases of clubfoot in 6 regions of Cameroon by 2021 and ensure that treated cases are saved from mobility impairment and regain/enjoy their social inclusion in their respective communities. In all, about 15000 children have had access to treatment since the start of the project, though the situation of clubfoot in the West and Adamawa regions remains alarming. Statistics reveal that there are many cases of neglected clubfoot in these regions where about 60% of children receiving care are neglected clubfoot.
The trained stakeholders who are Traditional Rulers, Presidents of Parent Support Groups, Presidents of Associations of Persons with Disabilities, Field Workers, Pastors, Medical Doctors, etc, all left the training empowered with clubfoot knowledge and pledged their contributions moving forward. Traditional rulers pledged to engage other traditional authorities, Presidents of Associations of Persons with Disabilities pledged to engage other associations, Pastors promised to continue to disseminate information in all church sessions, and Medical doctors pledged to take back the new knowledge and also share with their colleagues. Their passionate collaborative spirit was greatly appreciated by the Program Manager of the Socio-Economic Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (SEEPD), Mr. Awa Jacques Chirac who also used the event to thank the stakeholders for the work they have been doing on the field so far to promote the Cameroon Clubfoot Project.
According to the District Medical Officer of Malantwen Dr. Amabo Elvis Ngwa, the workshop has greatly complemented what they learned in school though he has not been able to work on clubfoot cases for years. He attested to have learned about the different forms of treatment for clubfoot and the basic notions on clubfoot, its forms, treatment, and stages. The training, he confirmed, has increased his knowledge about some medical situations of clubfoot and he is now better equipped to sensitize people in his Health District. He promised to designate a Focal Point in Charge of clubfoot cases in the District and work hard in the area of case identification and treatment.
The Head of Maternity Services at the Foumban District Hospital, Dr. Nana Ngueucheu Orlin praised the fruits yielded by their hospital, thanks to the collaboration with the Cameroon Baptist Convention (CBC) Health Services in several domains, including clubfoot care and management. This collaboration, he noted, started at a good time when the hospital was in dire need. He appreciated the sensitization strategy of the CBC Health Services which starts from the communities. According to him, this facilitates their work before many cases who visit the facilities are already aware of the medical condition. “The contribution of the CBC Health Services especially in this domain is great”. Another domain, he said, is the domain of HIV and AIDS services offered in the Foumban District Hospital through the HIV Free Project of the CBC Health Services.
This training came after Physiotherapists, Nurses, Midwives, CBR Field workers received the same in clubfoot identification and follow-up for management and treatment. With this coordinated effort, it is expected that no case of clubfoot will be unattended to in the two regions of the West and Adamawa.