The Ponseti Method

Local medical training

Mercy Ships trains local medical professionals to ensure we leave a lasting legacy of change.

Clubfoot is a treatable birth defect that affects over 150,000 children each year. When clubfoot occurs the foot twists inward and down. Children can be born with just one club foot or both, known as bilateral clubfeet.

The condition is not painful for a newborn, but when a child gets to walking age an uncorrected clubfoot can make walking very painful and difficult, if not impossible. In West Africa, club foot can also lead to babies and children being ridiculed and shunned, condemned to a dismal future because there is a fear that the condition is a result of witchcraft.

In the developed world, it is even possible to diagnose a club foot before birth with an ultrasound and treatment is readily available; however, in West Africa treatment is often unaffordable or simply unavailable due to lack of local medical knowledge. This means that children like Ibrahim have no option but to suffer pain and ridicule as they struggle towards an uncertain future.

Ibrahim before treatment

Little Ibrahim was born with bilateral clubfeet and his future looked bleak because his family could not access the treatment he needed. It wasn’t until his grandmother brought him to the Africa Mercy, when the ship arrived in Guinea, that he was able to receive treatment.

To change this, Mercy Ships trains local medical professionals in every country we visit in a treatment method known as the Ponseti Method. This method of correcting clubfeet is less invasive than surgery and is painless, cost-effective and has an extremely high success rate.

The training program encompasses all aspects of the treatment – medical, resources, patient care, and sustainability of clinics. The programme delivers theory, resolutions to common issues, practical techniques and emphasises the importance of early diagnosis. Early identification minimises the prevalence of this condition in the adult population and improves the success of ongoing in-country treatment plans.

Ibrahim cast change

In two different regions in Guinea, 30 medical professionals were trained and mentored in the Ponseti Method of club foot correction by Mercy Ships volunteers. Little Ibrahim was one of the patients to go through the programme in Guinea’s port capital city, Conakry. He had his future restored whilst helping to train the professionals who will deliver improved healthcare in Guinea.

Not only were the local professionals given the up-to-date training but they were also taught how to train other colleagues. Ensuring that patients like Ibrahim will benefit long after the Africa Mercy leaves port.

Soon little Ibrahim will be able to walk tall alongside his Grandmother, go to school and run and play with his friends. And not just him, but hundreds of children born with clubfoot thanks to the medical training provided by Mercy Ships volunteers and the legacy of change left in the wake of the Africa Mercy.

Ibrahim after surgery

None of this work would be possible without amazing supporters, like you. Make a donation to help save and change lives like Ibrahim’s.