OXFORD surgeons have launched a crowdfunding campaign to help transform the lives of hundreds of children born with club foot.

Last year 150 healthcare professionals in 17 countries in sub-Saharan Africa were trained by physiotherapists from the University of Oxford and Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre to treat the disease, which means the foot is deformed.

Now they have launched a four-week crowdfunding campaign to help roll out club foot training more extensively across Africa.

They are aiming to raise £100,000 by December 4 and they need to reach a minimum target of £70,000 for the project to go ahead.

Professor Chris Lavy OBE, who has worked with children with club foot for the last 20 years, is leading the crowdfunding push.

He said: “We are very excited by the opportunity to completely change the lives of children and families, by training many more healthcare providers to treat more children with club foot.

“Please help us give children the opportunity to walk, play and to go to school with their friends.”

More than 30,000 children in Africa are born with club foot each year.

Many thousands of these children will not receive treatment, as it is not available where they live.

Without treatment, the condition becomes ‘neglected club foot’ but in up to 95 per cent of cases it can be treated using the Ponseti method, which involves gentle manipulation of the foot.

Tim Theologis, clinical lead for the children’s orthopaedic department in Oxford, said: “Club foot treatment with the Ponseti technique is the biggest achievement in children’s orthopaedics in the last 50 years. It makes a real difference in people’s lives through minimal intervention.

“Untreated children become disabled adults; treated children can function without restrictions.”

To address the shortage of trained healthcare professionals in Africa, the team has developed two training courses with their partners, CURE Clubfoot and Global Clubfoot Initiative.

They have devised and piloted a two-day basic course to train club foot treatment providers and a one-day course to train club foot trainers who can teach the basic course.

p For information or to donate visit: oxreach.hubbub.net/p/clubfoot