From Menorca to Madagascar


Dr. Ignasi Ponsetí i Vives was born in Ciutadella de Menorca on the 3rd of June 1914. He grew up in Barcelona and as the son of a poor family was only able to study medicine at the University of Barcelona thanks to a scholarship. Just 2 days after graduating from medical school the Spanish Civil War began and he set to work treating wounded soldiers and civilians alike, many of them with orthopaedic injuries.

For 3 years he treated war victims until the end of the civil war when, after helping all the patients from the hospital cross the border into France where they would be safe from Franco’s troops, he made his was to Mexico as a political exile and then on to the United States where he was to specialize in orthopaedic surgery.

Yasif with his soon to wear new corrective shoes. ortho

It was there in the United States where he would later develop his technique to help correct club feet (or talipes equinovarus) which greatly reduces and sometimes even completely removes the need for surgery. To straighten the feet and legs he designed a technique which would later become known as the Ponseti method. Instead of invasive surgery he designed a technique using a series of plaster casts to gently straighten a child’s feet and legs.

During the last 12 months this technique has been taught to medical professionals in Madagascar by the crew of the hospital ship Africa Mercy, but there is still one more obstacle to overcome that is preventing them from helping hundreds of disabled children in Madagascar. As you can see from the photo below, the building that has been set aside by the government to house the Ponseti treatment clinic needs major renovations before it can be used to help these disabled kids.


So while the Africa Mercy is in South Africa finishing its annual maintenance period and preparing to sail to Madagascar for another 10 month long campaign, plans are being drawn up to completely renovate the Ponseti centre, so that the newly trained professionals can use Dr Ponseti’s method to help disabled children in Madagascar for many years to come. But we need help to finance this very worthwhile renovation project. Can you help?

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