The Obstacles Facing Clubfoot Treatment In Guatemala

13 August 2019
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clubfoot guatemala
Clubfoot patient checking her Instagram during treatment

Every parent wants to help their child. 

Few parents wouldn’t walk to hell and back to improve their child’s life. This is evidenced by the thousands of migrant parents that make the perilous trek to the United States in the attempt to improve the lives of their children. But sometimes, the hurdles that impede meaningful progress are too great for even the most loving of parents to surmount. 

This is often the case when it comes to treating children with clubfoot. In May of 2019, OSSA collaborated with 3rd-year Trauma resident, Dr. Astrid Mendoza, to create the first resident-run Clubfoot clinic and training program in a National public hospital. With over 600 births a month at the San Marcos Hospital alone, OSSA recognized the paramount need to create a clubfoot clinic. Partnering with Clubfoot Solutions for the use of the IOWA brace, and Dr. Mendoza’s energetic work using the Ponseti method in creating the resident training and infrastructure for the clinic, families in the department of San Marcos now have access to affordable, sustainable, and effective Clubfoot treatment. 

It isn’t uncommon for families to make a six-hour roundtrip to the San Marcos/OSSA Clubfoot clinic. But just as common are families that opt not to make the trip. Not only are these trips time-consuming but costly as well. To treat a child with a clubfoot deformity, a family must bring their child to the clinic every week for the first 4-6 weeks of treatment. After the casting phase is over, children will be equipped with a brace that they must wear 23 hours every day for the next three months. It’s during this period that children must come to the hospital twice a week. After these three months, children are asked to visit the hospital once a month for the next 4-5 years. By the time the treatment is over, both child and family will have visited the OSSA clubfoot clinic approximately 80 times. 

Half of the people in Guatemala live in poverty, 23% live in extreme poverty. San Marcos public hospital serves a large indigenous population of agricultural workers struggling to feed their families, let alone make the journey to the clinic. Time spent traveling to the hospital means spending valuable resources on transport and in many cases losing a day’s worth of wages. Even families that live in close proximity to the hospital must rely on slow, dangerous, and unreliable public transportation, often in the form of chicken buses or in the back of a truck.. 

Clubfoot treatment and training

In an attempt to encourage families to make the myriad of trips to the San Marcos National Hospital, OSSA is beginning to experiment with an incentive program. OSSA will continue to collect information on the dynamics of the families we treat in order to serve them more effectively. Our partnership with Clubfoot Solutions allows us to reduce the price of our braces for each and every subsequent brace when a family returns the brace in good used condition.

OSSA purchased multiple, colorful, BOMBAS Socks for our Ponseti friends’ first brace visit. We chose BOMBAS socks for their lifetime guarantee, durability and comfort for use on our little friends’ feet. 

OSSA  became proud recipients of the BOMBAS Sock Giving Back program. 1000 pairs of BOMBAS socks were delivered and are being distributed to our Local volunteer Firefighters First Responders as a reward for attending a CPR class. Smaller sizes are being given to our clinic patients and OSSA will have fun looking for other ways to share the generosity of the BOMBAS Sock company for the many needy feet in our community!

clubfoot guatemala
The bracing phase of clubfoot treatment begins!

We have many donated handmade baby blankets, PJ’s, and other ideas to keep our partnerships with our Clubfoot families helpful and rewarding. OSSA will continue to collaborate with our San Marcos Trauma Residency Ponseti Team and our Ponseti Clinic families to build strong and lasting partnerships.