This is discussion about miraclefeet: preventing unnecessary disability caused by untreated clubfoot around the world.
Congratulations on being selected a Finalist in the Making More Health competition! Your innovation displays potential for transformational impact in the lives of individuals. We want to hear more about your plan to become sustainable in the long run. In the future, how will you move away from being supported by donations alone?
-From the BI Judges Panel
Thank you for your important question. All of our clinics are created in public or charitable hospitals and are run and managed by a local team of Ponseti-trained doctors. Our goal in taking this approach is to create a solution that is part of the existing public health infrastructure rather than working outside the existing institutions in place to provide healthcare. Our hope is that, by working closely with the hospitals' administrations ownership for the clinics is absorbed by the host hospital. We invest in local doctors and institutions in the hope that the clinics will be fully sustainable. Our model is to gradually reduce funding after 4-5 years, once the hospital can see the remarkable results achieved with proper clubfoot treatment. Policy advocacy and working with government agencies are also an important part of the program so that we can make sure Ponseti treatment is covered by any government health program. Currently this is often not the case, which makes hospitals resist adopting the Ponseti Method even though it is the most effective and cheapest way to treat clubfoot.
Let me know if you need more information on this.
I just reread the original question and wanted to add a little more on this very important topic. It is one we debate and discuss internally constantly. We will always be dependent on donations to expand the number of clinics we can launch. And we have lots of ideas about how we can generate that funding.
However, each clinic becomes more sustainable over a 3-5 year period as the costs/child go down and the hospital becomes comfortable running and funding the on-going expenses. The most critical part of the puzzle to enable this to happen is whether miraclefeet can develop a low cost brace. The brace is now the most expensive part of treatment and is generally not covered by government health plans. We are working with our local partners to try to influence and change policy so that all families get free braces. In addition, we are working with Stanford University's d-school (Design School's Design for Affordability class) to develop a brace that we can provide for less than $20. Mike North, designer and prototyper, is also working on this for us and has made great progress with several prototypes at the testing stage. Cheap bracing and policy change, plus the results achieved from the three years of funded clinic operation, should make it much easier for countries agree to fund all clubfoot treatment. It is much cheaper than surgery that some already cover and much cheaper that the cost disability incurs on productivity.
However, there will probably always be some places where miraclefeet will have to continue some financial support because per capita spending on health is so low (e.g.Nicaragua) - but in countries where there is a solid commitment to public health, we believe the programs will be sustainable and funded locally. I hope that helps shed more light on the issue.
Go miraclefeet!!!! Keep helping kids all around the world, what you guys are doing is great.