Clubfoot and Other Conditions
Each of the following conditions share some aspect in common with clubfoot – disability, stigma, treatability, or prevalence – and their respective investments have led to striking progress
Like clubfoot, guinea worm can lead to preventable pain and disability. In 1986, the International Campaign to Eradicate Guinea Worm began. Since that time, an estimated $432 million (USD) has been invested in the effortand cases have been decreased by 99.99%, form an estimated 3.5 million cases in 1986 to 27 reported cases in 2020, virtually eradicating the disease.
Clubfoot and Polio can both cause devastating but preventable lifelong lower limb disabilities that diminish mobility in children. The world has galvanized attention and coordinated resources to eradicate Polio. Public and private donors have invested more than $16 billion USD since 1988 to eradicate polio, and the public health outcomes have been tremendous. In 1988, there were about 350,000 cases of polio in 125 countries; in 2019, 175 cases were reported.
What do Polio and Clubfoot have in common? More than you think.
A polio resurgence would affect as many children as clubfoot does every year, according to the Gates Foundation.
Polio spurred modern physical rehabilitation and orthopedic innovations that improved quality of life and mobility for millions living with disabilities.
More children are living today with untreated clubfoot than with HIV. Pediatric HIV infections and clubfoot affect similar numbers of newborns annually. However, since 2010, donors have spent more than $104 billion (2019 USD) to prevent and treat HIV and AIDS. As a result, more than 26 million people are now accessing antiretroviral therapy, and since 2010, new pediatric HIV infections have plummeted 52% from 310,000 to 150,000 per year in 2019.
Today, there are approximately 100,000 new cases of leprosy annually, half of the incidence of clubfoot – and down from 5 million in the 1980s. Left untreated, clubfoot and leprosy are both disabling conditions that lead to devastating physical disability, social isolation, and lifelong economic consequences. Thanks to effective multi-drug therapy (MDT), the reported prevalence of leprosy decreased 99% over the past 30 years. Since 1981, 16 million people have received MDT as a result of over $100 million invested since 2000.
There is abundant evidence that prioritizing and funding global health disease and disability leads to individual as well as societal benefits. Donors, multilateral organizations, and recipient countries have an enormous untapped opportunity to expand access to clubfoot treatment that could prevent nearly all lifelong disability caused by clubfoot for future generations as well as for the more than one million children living with clubfoot today.
1. Guinea Worm Eradication Program: Carter Center; [Available from: https://www.cartercenter.org/ health/guinea_worm/index.html.
2. Global HIV & AIDS Statistics: 2020 Fact Sheet. Geneva.
3. Smythe T, Kuper H, Macleod D, Foster A, Lavy C. Birth prevalence of congenital talipes equinovarus in low- and middle-income countries: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Trop Med Int Health. 2017;22(3):269-85.
4. Poliomyelitis (polio): World Health Organization; [Available from: Retrieved from World Health Organization website: https://www.who.int/health-topics/poliomyelitis#tab=tab_1.
5. Global Immunization: Our Progress Against Polio: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; [Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/polio/progress/index.htm#:~:text=The%20number%20of%20 worldwide%20polio,Asia%20and%20the%20Western%20Pacific.