|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
ONE DISEASE WITH A CURE IN SIGHT:
LEMOYNE, Penn., Feb. 27, 2008 – Not much gets big-game hunter and Vietnam War veteran Dr. Scott Harrison riled up, but his passions are stirred at the plight of disabled children in countries where foreign aid all too often is spent in ways that create dependencies but do not solve problems.
“When I decided to get involved with helping children around the world, I wanted to do something that could make a real difference,” Harrison said. “I wanted to treat a disease, not just a symptom.” And that’s exactly what he’s been doing ever since through the work of CURE International, the medical charity he founded 12 years ago.
As an orthopedic surgeon, Harrison spent the greatest part of his career in the U.S. healing broken bones. He saw very few cases of the genetic deformity know as clubfoot. However, when he traveled overseas to places like Malawi and Kenya, he was heartbroken by the thousands of people impacted by this devastating condition.
“In the developing world, if a child can’t walk, he can’t go to school, and if he can’t go to school, he can’t work. For families who are poor already, this is only one more burden,” Harrison said. “Often times, the whole community views that family as cursed and abandons them to continued poverty. Can you imagine what would have happened if Troy Aikman’s* or Mia Hamm’s* families had been treated in a similar way?”
This year, over 200,000 children in developing countries (1:500 births) will be born with clubfoot, which translates into two million children over the next 10 years. Harrison doesn’t like the odds for those children, so at CURE International, a worldwide initiative has been established with the goal to eradicate clubfoot from the planet.
Since CURE Clubfoot Worldwide was initiated just two years ago, over 1,500 children from Cambodia, the Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Haiti, Honduras, Kenya, Malawi and Zambia have 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 cured during this same time period.
While these numbers are reflective of a successful launch of the CURE Clubfoot Worldwide program, CURE expects the number of children healed during the next year to rise even more. By the end of the upcoming year, CURE Clubfoot plans to care for over 4,000 children with clubfoot.
“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. In the developing world however, the child with clubfoot usually remains permanently disabled. Clubfoot cannot be forgotten because it still torments so many children around the world.”
The goal of the CURE Clubfoot Worldwide program is to create networks in each country that will raise awareness about the clubfoot deformity, train national medical personnel to perform simple, corrective casting procedures, and provide funding for poor children who cannot afford medical care. In order to standardize training, part of the initiative includes a partnership between CURE and the University of Iowa-based Ponseti International Association.
A key component of 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 for whom the Ponseti method is used before two years of age 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 46,000 surgeries and treated more than 650,000 patients. Visit www.curenewsroom.com for more information.
*Star U.S. athletes born with clubfoot
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