07 Mar Update from India
India, the second most populated country in the world, has a population of over 1.2B people, of which over two-thirds live in poverty. When faced with illness most of these people are forced to delay treatment, receive inadequate care or remain untreated due to the inability to afford the cost of treatment. Understanding the urgency to help those in need, Dr. Bhavesh Shah, co-director of Operation Footprint, was approached eight years ago by US Rotarians to possibly develop a surgery program in Agra, India to help those with such severe foot and ankle deformity. In 2017, one fortunate patient was identified for correction of his neglected clubfoot, at no charge, performed by Dr. Shah and local orthopedic surgeon Dr. Ankit Varshneya. The result was excellent. Building upon this success, a larger surgical camp was conducted in 2018, where 11 more patients successfully underwent surgery, all funded by a grant from Rotary International obtained by Rotarians Sherri and Al Muniz and Rahul Wadhwa. Dr. Shah shared these results with the other directors of Operation Footprint, whose interest was piqued by the success, obvious need, and potential for future expansion. In 2019 the senior surgical team of Operation Footprint traveled to Agra at their own expense, performed surgery on 15 more patients at no cost and evaluated the program’s future potential. The husband-and-wife team of Drs. Ankit and Nimta Varshneya once again graciously donated the use of their surgical facility. The Operation Footprint surgeons also shared their long-term experience in managing these complex foot and ankle deformities with the surgeons of the Agra Orthopedic Society. Together they plan to work to expand the program for the local management of these complex deformities while helping those in need.
As Dr. Shah explained, “By working together, we can change these children’s lives, give them and their parents hope and, as Operation Footprint has done elsewhere for over 40 years, make a difference in the community one patient at a time.”