133-3395_IMGThe third Botswana Ponseti training took place in Maun on 27 and 28 July. Maun is in North West district of Botswana and the administrative capital of Ngamiland. It is the gateway to the Okavango Delta, which one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa, officially on UNESCO World Heritage List.

STEPS’ Karen Moss first met with Sydney Mutambiranwa when he attended the Mahalapye training in November 2014, and he invited her to visit Thuso Rehabilitation Centre. Based in Maun, Thuso is a remarkable organisation working with the disabled, and many of their clients are adults with neglected clubfoot.

Although Ponseti treatment has been available in Gaborone since July 2013, Maun is over 800km from Princess Marina Hospital’s clubfoot clinic and travel for treatment is impossible for most people in Maun and surrounding areas.

Thuso’s outreach workers visit many small villages around Maun where little other medical care is available. Following a meeting with Thuso in January 2015, a partnership was established between STEPS and Thuso to provide Ponseti treatment to the children of Maun and surrounding villages.

STEPS signed a memorandum of understanding with the Botswana Ministry of Health in May 2015, and following a meeting at Princess Marina Hospital, the training in Maun was confirmed as the first official joint effort between NGO and government for the clubfoot programme.

unnamed (2)The training was hosted at Letsholathebe II Memorial Hospital. STEPS South African faculty worked together with the experienced Princess Marina Hospital clubfoot clinic team as a combined faculty to train 31 healthcare professionals from Thuso Rehabilitation Centre, Letsholathebe II Memorial Hospital, and other key treatment centres servicing Maun. Dr Greg Firth from Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital in South Africa was Ponseti faculty trainer.

Following the Ponseti training, a working committee has been established in Maun and plans to open a new clubfoot clinic are underway. The clinic will be run at Thuso Rehabilitation Centre, supported by Letsholathebe II, which is a district hospital.

“Ponseti training is a crucial part of the STEPS programme, to reach our goal of building capacity so that more patients can be successfully treated,” Karen Moss says. “Since 2006, STEPS workshops have trained over 250 medical professionals, first with overseas faculty, and now with a local faculty of Ponseti trainers. As a result of our Ponseti training, more than 25 Ponseti clinics have been opened in three countries.”

The Ngami Times recently wrote an article about the Ponseti training. You can read it here