About Operation Walk Canada Inc.
Since 2006 Operation Walk Canada has returned to Guatemala each year as part of a long-term commitment to this country.
In Guatemala, the team works at Obras Sociales del Hermano Pedr, facility which provides residential care to nearly 300 children and adults with severe disabilities, as well as nutritional services and care to infants and toddlers with congenital cleft palate defects and other maladies. There are four operating rooms which are utilized by volunteer medical teams from all over the world. As does Operation Walk, these teams work alongside the in-country staff. The Obras relies heavily on donations from the private sector and receives negligible financial assistance from the Guatemalan government.
A joint mission of the London based Operation Walk team and the Calgary based True North team first took place in Cuenca, Ecuador in 2009. Since then Operation Walk Team London has returned to Ecuador each year.
The surgeries done on these Operation Walk medical missions to treat secondary osteoarthritis of the hip due to developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) are complex and challenging procedures, involving not only significant shortening of the femur (thigh bone) in order to reduce the hip from its’ dislocated position, but also total hip replacements in young (<50 years of age), mostly female patients. “The tragedy is that the secondary osteoarthritis of the hip due to DDH is largely preventable with early diagnosis, early treatment and the avoidance of the age old custom of swaddling infants with their hips extension.” However, the education needed to bring about this prevention is part of a very slow process. In developing countries such as Ecuador, DDH is too commonly not diagnosed and too often left untreated. The result is significant hip deformity and leg length discrepancy by early adulthood accompanied by significant pain, stiffness and severe osteoarthritis.
The need to rectify this problem is urgent and in response to this need, Operation Walk in Ecuador has established an important initiative in conjunction with the surgeries. Alongside the local orthopaedic community and the country’s government, efforts to establish a national DDH early diagnosis and treatment and prevention program are actively underway.