|FOR INFORMATION CONTACT:
Melany Ethridge 214.912.8934 • [email protected]
Jodi Cunningham 972.267.1111 • [email protected]
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NEW LIFE FOR THE NEW YEAR:
LEMOYNE, Penn., Dec. 28, 2007 – As the countdown to 2008 approaches, thousands of children in developing countries suffering from clubfoot are looking forward to a year of new beginnings. With the success of CURE Clubfoot Worldwide, a ten-year initiative to eradicate clubfoot globally, 2008 will bring thousands more children something they never had before: hope for a future.
Since the program was initiated just two years ago, over 1,200 children from Cambodia, the Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Haiti, Honduras, Kenya, Malawi and Zambia have already benefited from the efforts of CURE Clubfoot Worldwide. In Kenya alone, 682 children with clubfoot have been treated during the last 24 months and, in Ethiopia 321 clubfoot children have been treated. While these numbers are reflective of a successful launch of the CURE Clubfoot Worldwide program, CURE expects the number of children treated throughout the next year to rise ever more. By the end of the upcoming year, CURE Clubfoot plans to have cared for over 4,000 clubfoot children.
“The success of reaching and treating a large number of children during the initial phase of CURE Clubfoot Worldwide only reinforces the need for this program,” said Andrew Mayo, executive director of CURE Clubfoot Worldwide. “Because in developed countries clubfoot is diagnosed and treated within a few weeks after birth, we rarely see its devastating effects, and many people are unaware that it even exists. Clubfoot cannot be forgotten because it still torments so many children around the world.”
It is rare to hear of American children born with clubfoot, as they receive corrective treatment in early infancy. Most Americans don’t know that star athletes like Mia Hamm and Troy Aikman were born with clubfoot.
Without an aggressive treatment program like CURE Clubfoot, the number of suffering children will continue to grow. This year, over 200,000 children in developing countries (1/500 births) will be born with clubfoot, which translates into 2 million children over the next 10 years.
One of the most common congenital birth defects that can be easily cured with early identification and intervention, clubfoot is still a widespread problem in the developing world. Children that are left untreated are condemned to a lifetime of challenges. With ankles twisted inwards and downwards so that only the heel, toes or outer edge of the foot touch the ground, clubfoot makes walking difficult or impossible. Even worse than the physical complications of clubfoot are the missed educational, occupational and social opportunities that many children will never experience.
In Kenya, Rauhiya was born with severe bilateral clubfoot deformity. Her parents did not know that a simple, non-surgical treatment could correct their daughter’s clubfoot, which would enable her to walk without pain. Her relatives believed that the girl’s condition was the result of some wrong-doing against their forefather’s spirit.
The family was told that the father did not pay the entire bride’s dowry to his in-laws and, therefore, a curse had been cast upon the family. They sacrificed a bull in an attempt to appease the spirits, but her condition did not improve.
Eventually, Rauhiya’s father abandoned her and her five siblings, leaving them dependent upon their mother. Rauhiya’s mother finally learned of the CURE clubfoot program in Kenya, and Rauhiya is on her way to a normal, hope-filled life.
“For so many children like Rauhiya, CURE is transforming their lives,” said Dr. Scott Harrison, founder and director of CURE International. “But beyond impacting individual patients and their families, we are providing a long-term solution to the health care challenges faced by many countries in the developing world when it comes to taking care of disabled children.”
The goal of the CURE Clubfoot Worldwide program is to create treatment networks in each country that will raise awareness about the clubfoot deformity, train nationals to perform simple, corrective casting procedures and provide funding for poor children who cannot afford treatment. In order to standardize training and treatment, part of the initiative includes a partnership between CURE and the University of Iowa-based International Ponseti Association.
A key component of the CURE Clubfoot Worldwide is to train national medical professionals within each country to use the Ponseti Method. Called the gold standard of treatment by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Ponseti Method utilizes a series of plaster casts that are worn between six to 10 weeks to stretch and rotate the foot into the correct position. Up to 90 percent of clubfoot children treated before the age of two using the Ponseti method experience full reversal and recovery: and a normal childhood.
CURE International is a Christian nonprofit organization committed to the physical and spiritual healing of disabled children in developing countries. CURE International transforms the lives of these children and their families, serving all by establishing specialty teaching hospitals, building partnerships and advocating for these children. To date, CURE has performed 41,000 surgeries and treated more than 600,000 patients. Visit www.helpcurenow.com for more information.
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