Supporting children born with clubfoot in the Western Cape | Western Cape Government


Supporting children born with clubfoot in the Western Cape

3 June 2024

On World Clubfoot Day, 03 June 2024, the Western Cape Department of Health and Wellness is raising global awareness about clubfoot, a treatable birth defect. This day is of specific significance in South Africa, where around 2000 children are born with clubfoot every year. This equates to 1 in 1000 children.

Children born with clubfoot are unable to walk, run or play due to their feet being rotated inwards and downwards. The goal of treatment offered by Tygerberg Hospital and other specialist facilities in the province is to improve the way a child’s foot looks and works before they learn to walk, in hopes of preventing long-term disabilities.

The Tygerberg Hospital Clubfoot Clinic and Steps Clubfoot Care have been in a partnership since 2013, with Steps providing parent education and support, the required clubfoot braces and training support for healthcare professionals at the hospital.

From January 2024 to date, Tygerberg Hospital’s Orthopaedic Clinic treated 25 new patients and managed 415 patient visits.

Dr Marí Thiart, an orthopaedic specialist at Tygerberg Hospital, said: “Clubfoot is a condition that is easily treatable if referred to our clinic early. It does, however, mean that parents need to support their children's treatment and to attend the clinic as requested."

Asonele Mkhombe, a three-year-old from Mfuleni, is a happy and active toddler who was born with bilateral clubfoot in 2021. Her mother, Nomandla, said: “I took my daughter to the Tygerberg Clubfoot Clinic when she was 10 days old. An official by the name of Jane from Steps Clubfoot Care reassured me and explained the treatment to me. I also found comfort in talking to other mothers and caregivers in the hospital baby room over a cup of tea and a sandwich. After having eight plaster casts applied on both legs over eight weeks followed by a tenotomy, my daughter's feet improved remarkably. She now sleeps in her clubfoot brace at night and nap time. During the day, she is very active. She walks so well, and I’m grateful to everybody at the Clubfoot Clinic for the positive experience.”

Dr Thiart, further advises: “Early intervention for clubfoot and ongoing support through the typical four-year treatment is critical to prevent lifelong disability from clubfoot.”

Nomandla further commented: “The Tygerberg Hospital Clubfoot Clinic family provides support throughout the journey.”

“Having a clinic where only children with clubfoot are seen allows the moms to form a support network. It affords them the chance to see well-corrected feet in older children thus building hope and confidence in the treatment plan, as well as building friendships with moms whose children are in the same phase of treatment.” Dr Thiart concluded.