Analysis: BRIAN MALAMA
TRADE Kings Foundation is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers.
The company offers the full spectrum of health, education, sanitation and women empowerment programmes for individuals and the community at large.
Trade Kings is a consortium of 20 companies committed to improving lives of many Zambians, especially among women and children.
The foundation, whose credo is to improve lives, wants to see a healthy Zambia. The company wants to be an integral part of the community it operates in.
Through the foundation, Trade Kings will also contribute to public education initiatives on healthy living behaviours through events and projects.
The company’s construction of a brand new factory fitted with equipment for manufacturing braces (special shoes) for children born with club foot is a milestone achievement.
The decision to construct the factory within the grounds of Beit Cure Zambia was made by the foundation’s board of trustees as part of the solution in reducing disabilities among young children born with club foot, a rare condition.
WHAT IS CLUB FOOT?
Clubfoot describes a range of foot abnormalities usually present at birth (congenital) in which your baby’s foot is twisted out of shape or position.
In club foot, the tissues connecting the muscles to the bone (tendons) are shorter than usual. Club foot is a fairly common birth defect and is usually an isolated problem for an otherwise healthy new-born.
Club foot can be mild or severe. About half of children with this condition have it in both feet. If your child has club foot, it will make it harder to walk normally, so doctors generally recommend treating it soon after birth.
Doctors are usually able to treat it successfully without surgery, though sometimes children need follow-up surgery later on.
According to research, one in 700 children worldwide is born with this rare condition. Unfortunately, medical authorities are carrying out research on its cause.
Children born with club foot usually have their feet twisted downward and inward, increasing the arch and turning the heel inward. The foot may be turned so severely that it actually looks as if it is upside down.
The calf muscles in the affected leg are usually underdeveloped. The affected foot may be up to half an inch (about one centimetre) shorter than the other foot.
Medical research has not yet established what causes club foot, so it is not possible to completely prevent it.
However, in pregnant or expectant mothers, they are normally advised to avoid certain vices to limit the risk of birth defects.
Therefore, expectant mothers or pregnant girls or women shall not be allowed to smoke or spend time in smoky environments. Alcohol consumption and any form of illicit drugs should be avoided.
Non-surgical treatments such as casting or splinting are usually tried first. The foot (or feet) is moved (manipulated) into the most normal position possible and held (immobilised) in that position until the next treatment.
This manipulation and immobilisation procedure is repeated every one to two weeks for two to four months, moving the foot a little closer towards a normal position each time. Some children have enough improvement that the only further treatment is to keep the foot in the corrected position by splinting it as it grows.
The two common methods of manipulation and casting are the “traditional” and the Ponseti (Iowa) methods. In traditional treatment, one position of the foot at a time is treated with manipulation and casting. Usually, the inward direction of the front of the foot is corrected first. If the foot is not responsive, major surgery is performed to further straighten the foot.
In the Ponseti method, two problems with foot position (the front part of the foot being turned in and up) are corrected at the same time. Towards the end of the series of castings, if the whole foot is pointing down, children treated with this method still need a minor surgery to lengthen the tight Achilles tendon.
This is usually an outpatient procedure. The Ponseti method works well if it is started right away and if the doctor’s instructions for bracing are followed after casting is finished. It helps at least 90 out of 100 children who have club foot.
CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
Trade Kings Foundation media manager James Songwe says his organisation was quick to respond to many requests for support in this area.
“We have been compelled to reach out and support Beit Cure, a United Kingdom Charity saving lives in Zamia. The current factory operates under a small little shelter outside,” Mr Songwe said.
The company has contracted a civil engineering agent to carry construction works in 45 days. The cost of civil works and equipment will cost slightly over K400,000.
“The company is delighted to be among stakeholders contributing to children’s welfare in this country.
Trade Kings Foundation has been compelled to donate these huge sums of money in a bid to improve the efficiency of the existing infrastructure.
The new factory and machinery will improve and increase the production capacity.
“As an organisation, our aim is to contribute to early treatment in children and avoid, where we can, to reduce the psychological impact this condition is likely to breed in future for both children and parents,” Mr Songwe said.
He said Trade Kings is not only interested in providing quality products on an open market but also committed to providing quality health care among its consumers.
Trade Kings Foundation is highly indebted to the Zambian consumers and, therefore, it will endeavour to offer a sustained social corporate responsibility programme for its people in Zambia.
The author is Zambia Daily Mail photo-editor.