Parents advised to take children born with club foot for early treatment

Kampala – Parents of children born with club foot have been advised to take them for early treatment to be corrected easily.

Club foot is a birth defect that affects the way a child’s foot forms. At birth, the foot is either turned inward or downward. Club foot can affect one or both feet. 

Dr. Andrew Muleledhu is the Managing Director Comprehensive Rehabilitation Services in Uganda (CoRSU) Hospital, one of the health facilities in Uganda that treat children born with that condition. 

Muleledhu says, annually, the hospital attends to about 20,000 patients and of these, about 85% are children suffering from club foot. 

Cause not known

According to Juliet Babirye, the head of nursing at the same facility, the scientific cause of club foot is unknown ruling out family history among other causes it’s usually attributed to.

“Don’t say your wife has bad luck because they have given birth to a child with club foot and don’t say they didn’t eat properly while pregnant because even those who eat well can also give birth to a child with that condition. Scientists don’t tell us what exactly causes club foot, you might find when the child squeezed itself while in the womb or developed somewhere and the foot develops that way so you can’t say that a certain family produces children with club foot,” said Babirye in a media interview on Wednesday 

Juliet Babirye, the head of nursing at CoRSU Hospital talking to journalists at the facility on Wednesday (Photo by Ritah Ainembabazi)

Less costly when treated early 

Babirye notes that once a child born with that condition receives early treatment, it’s easily corrected and at a cheaper cost.

“It would be better if that child is taken for treatment when they are still very young because then, the borns are still soft so it is easier to treat them and less expensive than when they are grown. When they are big, they end up going for surgery which would have been avoided,” said Babirye

Treatment needs patience 

According to Babirye, the treatment for club foot needs some level of patience. 

“We are not going to treat a child today and they recover tomorrow. We usually use casts we put those casts for about six weeks as we keep changing them every one to two weeks until such a point when we are sure that a child is at level A. After that, we go to another stage where we use certain type of shoes to help the foot/feet shape properly. So it needs some bit of patience but what we look at, at this point is the end result and that is, the child having normal foot/feet,” said nurse Babirye.

Free treatment 

She noted that at CoRSU Hospital which is a private, non-profit, non-governmental organization health facility, the treatment is given free of charge at the club foot clinic which is sponsored by MiracleFeet.

“We usually get many of them here. We have what we call a club foot clinic. The clinic is sponsored by miracle feet. So the services are readily available for any child who is brought in with club foot,” she said


Estimates from the health ministry show that annually at least 2,000 babies in the country are born with the condition. However, only 840 children are able to access treatment and the remaining 1,160 children grow up depending on wheelchairs, crutches, or limping because they never received the life-saving treatment. 

Henry Musoke, the coordinator of the National Clubfoot Programme in Uganda, says few children are treated because there are few treatment facilities in the country.

At the moment, only 28 health facilities are able to offer treatment for the condition. These include Mulago National Referral Hospital, CoRSU Rehabilitation Hospital, Nakaseke Hospital ,Luweero Hospital and Masindi General hospital. Other treatment centers are located at the general or regional referral hospitals in Lira, Gulu, Moroto, Soroti, Kumi, Mbale, Tororo, and Jinja districts.

“In addition to the above, cultural beliefs make parents hide children because many associates the defect with bad luck. However, there are also few health workers who know how to diagnose the disease and even how to treat it,” said Musoke

Government training more orthopedic officers

Dr. Charles Olaro, the Director of Curative Services at the Ministry of Health says the government is working towards training more orthopedic officers to be able to correct the condition.

In addition to this, Dr. Olaro says they are planning on opening a clubfoot registry that will help in the referral of all children born with the condition. 

“Our HMI system records all children born with abnormalities but does not break it down. We are looking at segregating all the different abnormalities so that we can know how many clubfeet have been born and whether or not they received treatment. This will help us follow up on all the cases so that we reduce the burden of those children that do not have access to treatment,” said Dr. Olaro