Having being afflicted with clubfoot as a young child, Santosh Kumar has experienced a life of extreme poverty and hardship. An uneducated gardener with a meagre salary of Rs 57 a day, he was devastated when his daughter, Kajal was born with the same condition. First he was worried she wouldn't be able to lead a normal life and second, the treatment was prohibitively expensive.
There is however hope for children such as Kajal, thanks to the efforts of Dr Mathew Varghese, who is the head of orthopaedic surgery at St Stephen’s Hospital in Delhi.
NGO WonderWork has a documentary on National Geographic, which chronicles the efforts underway in treating this condition, which afflicts nearly 50,000 children in India.
“It is such a treatable condition,” says Dr Varghese, revealing how he was once shocked to hear from a woman, whose family wanted her to terminate her pregnancy, because her child had been diagnosed with a clubfoot. “A child who has a clubfoot deformity, and is not treated, ends up having a lifetime of disability. Many of them end up not getting to the level their skills and intelligence could have got them to.”
Dr Varghese employs the Ponseti method, a non-surgical method using plaster casts to help children. Another NGO, CURE has further abetted their social work by manufacturing special shoes locally that are available at no cost.
Five years ago, the programme helped 800 children get back on their feet. This year, they will have helped approximately 8,000 children and over the next five years, their aim is to reach 50,000 children.
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