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While there are many health care needs in Vietnam it would be impractical to attempt to try and manage them all. It has become obvious that clubfoot is one problem we can overcome. Apart from operating on existing uncorrected clubfeet we also need to be directing efforts at the early detection and treatment of clubfeet with manipulation and casting which would avoid the need for surgery in most cases. This is a public health project that would have the potential to have a significant long term benefit by putting into place a system for early detection and treatment. The benefit to the local community would be to reduce the number of children with a disability and reduce health care costs by reducing the need for complex, expensive surgery.

“...It is our responsibility to seek out workable solutions. It has become apparent that one of the most useful approaches is to become involved in the education of local health-care workers in techniques that are economically and socially feasible for their society…”

Levine A. Sept 2001
Editorial “Can We Make a Difference?”
Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Project Aim

1) Build the capacity to detect clubfoot by:

  • Increasing awareness of doctors and midwifes at hospitals and commune health stations to emphasis early diagnosed and treatment.

2) Build the capacity to treat clubfoot by:

  •  Providing training of doctors in casting and splinting
  •  Fabrication of night splints from locally available materials
  •  Funding for the hospitals and patients for treatment

Initial funding from Variety International Lifeline in 2005 has been used to develop a pilot program in central Vietnam based in Da Nang and the neighbouring province of Quang Nam for the early detection and management of clubfoot in new born infants using a casting and splinting technique.

The intention is to expand the project during 2006 into the adjoining provinces of Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Quang Ngai and Thua Thien Hue.

Project Achievements

The project so far has been able to achieve:

  • Co operation and understanding of the aim of the project by the local area health authorities and relevant government departments
  • Printing and distribution of colour poster promoting the importance of early intervention and where to go for treatment
  • Lecture series on the treatment of clubfoot translated into Vietnamese
  • Colour booklet translated into Vietnamese on the treatment of clubfoot
  • Patient information brochures
  • Series of seminar and workshop for doctors and other health professionals
  • Production and supply of a locally made night split which is 10% of the cost of an imported splint
  • Setting up referral network and funding for patients to receive treatment both for casting and splinting but also surgery

If we can provide the impetus to start the type of treatment that is affordable, achievable and the benefits can be demonstrated and embraced by the local medical community then the project should be self perpetuating. For this reason the key features of the program is to teach then on how to help themselves rather than being reliant on outside support. Our aim is to start treating the problem as soon as possible…from birth.

The long term measure of our success will be a reduction in the number of children needing surgery.

 
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