New Country Announcement: Nigeria

August 23, 2018

Clubfoot in Nigeria

MiracleFeet is excited to be supporting clubfoot treatment at two clinics in our newest partner country: Nigeria.

With nearly 186 million residents, Nigeria is Africa’s most-populated country. There is a great need for access to quality Ponseti treatment throughout the country, as over 9,000 children are born with clubfoot each year. MiracleFeet’s work will be focused in Abia, a state in southeastern Nigeria.

Nigerians pay out of pocket for medical expenses, and the majority do not have the means to comfortably afford the full course of Ponseti treatment if they have a child born with clubfoot.

Those in rural areas and villages have additional obstacles. Often, there is no specialist doctor in these locations; most are in large cities. Residents have to figure out how to get to the city for treatment, which can be costly and time consuming given the lack of infrastructure in rural areas. When it comes to clubfoot treatment, this can lead to treatment dropouts and relapse.

Fortunately, there are medical professionals in Nigeria committed to helping less-fortunate Nigerians overcome the obstacles they face in the health care system.

One of those Nigerians is Dr. Peace.

About Our Partner

Orthopedic trauma surgeon Dr. Peace Ifeoma Amaraegbulam knew that she wanted a life full of adventure. She describes herself as a child who was constantly seeking out the newest and next adventure, and she felt a career path in medicine would provide the excitement she was looking for.

Once Dr. Peace discovered the variety of patients orthopedic surgeons get to see in their work, she was sold. The road was a long one: with medical school, a residency, required national service, an internship, and a few years of delay because of educator strikes, Dr. Peace committed sixteen years of her life to complete her education.

With unwavering support from her family, Dr. Peace remained dedicated to achieving the goal she’d had since childhood. Today, she is one of only three female orthopedic surgeons in Nigeria, out of 400 total.

Becoming a surgeon wasn’t just about adventure, though. Part of what drove Dr. Peace was a desire to contribute something meaningful to her country. While on a spinal surgery fellowship in 2015 in Denmark, she first began to envision an organization that would help children born with disabilities in Nigeria. She did not know what it would look like or what it would strive to accomplish, but she knew she wanted to make a difference in her country.

In the two years following, the organization began to take shape. Dr. Peace decided to name it The Straight Child Foundation (TSCF). In 2017, TSCF began a series of seminars about cerebral palsy, which Dr. Peace funded with money from her own salary.

TSCF and MiracleFeet’s Vision for a Healthier Nigeria

As TSCF and Dr. Peace continued their work, more people found themselves connecting with her vision of providing quality, compassionate care to children born with disabilities in Nigeria. Since the organization’s inception, TSCF’s staff of three employees and twelve volunteers has done advocacy to raise awareness of childhood developmental disorders (including a weekly 30-minute radio program), signed a partnership with MiracleFeet, and participated in a Ponseti training.

This is only the beginning of an exciting partnership that will help treat children with clubfoot in southeastern Nigeria. Dr. Peace also aims to transform belief systems so that children with disabilities are not left alone and isolated from their communities. Children, Dr. Peace believes, are entitled to care, and parents should know that even if their child has a disability, they are a child like any other. In the case of a child born with clubfoot, they “just want to play, but can’t because they can’t walk or can’t wear shoes,” Dr. Peace says.

In addition, the comprehensive training MiracleFeet provides as part of our partnership with TSCF is especially important to Dr. Peace. Not only does it allow practitioners to provide the highest-quality Ponseti treatment, it also helps strengthen teamwork between doctors and other providers. Dr. Peace explains that there can often be a disconnect between these two worlds – doctors versus nurses and community health workers – and she has already seen improvement in collaboration on her team. “Everyone on the team matters and everyone is doing something,” she observes.

After only a few months, it is apparent that the transformation Dr. Peace envisions is not only possible but already happening. This trail-blazing Nigerian surgeon gives her assessment with characteristic humility. “Things are changing. It is gradual, but they are changing.”

Learn more about the two MiracleFeet-supported clinics in Nigeria: