Curbing clubfoot one donation at a time

Anilafe Mkhota, 2, and her mother, Maness.

Anilafe Mkhota, 2, is getting the help she needs to correct a deformity in one of her legs, thanks to Steps Club Foot Care, a non-profit organisation.

Anilafe is one of the 22 children in Kuils River, Brackenfell and Kraaifontein with clubfoot congenial deformity who have so far this year received corrective braces. The brace she received, known as the Ponseti Mitchell, is worth R5 700.

Nationally, Steps has donated more than R400 000 worth of clubfoot braces since the beginning of the year.

Anilafe was born with unilateral clubfoot, meaning one of her legs is smaller than the other.

Children with the deformity cannot walk run and play as their legs are rotated inwards or are unequal. It’s caused by abnormal development in their bones, ligaments and muscles during pregnancies.

Anilafe’s mother, Maness, said: “No one would ever know that she had clubfoot when she was born. Anilafe now wears the boots every night and no longer must wear them during the day.

“For the first three months, I would put them on her for 23 hours a day. The boots are very comfortable and easy to use. My daughter reminds me every night to put her shoes on. She will wear them until she is four years old just to make sure her foot does not turn back in.”

Asked what led to her donating clubfoot braces, Steps Club Foot Care founder and executive director Karen Moss Moss said: “There has been a shortage of clubfoot braces in the Western Cape and Steps has been filling in the gap to ensure that no child goes without a clubfoot brace.”

The Ponseti Mitchell brace, fitted on Anilafe, consists of two boots attached to a bar that is adjusted to the same width as the child’s shoulders and which holds the feet in a correct position.

“Without the clubfoot brace, there’s a very high chance that the clubfoot deformity can recur,” Ms Moss said.

And that could mean repeating the initial phase of treatment, complete with all the related transport costs for families needing to get to weekly appointments.

Ms Moss said the Ponseti Mitchell brace was typically used for patients who had complex cases or patients that struggled to wear the braces that were usually supplied by the hospital.

She said her organisation worked with Tygerberg Hospital to help children born with the deformity.

Provincial health spokesperson Byron la Hoe said about 2 000 children were born with clubfoot every year in the country.