News / Africa

Kenyan Organization Focuses on Scourge of Jiggers

A resident of Kamuli district in eastern Uganda, displays her foot, infested by jiggers. (File Photo)A resident of Kamuli district in eastern Uganda, displays her foot, infested by jiggers. (File Photo)
x
A resident of Kamuli district in eastern Uganda, displays her foot, infested by jiggers. (File Photo)
A resident of Kamuli district in eastern Uganda, displays her foot, infested by jiggers. (File Photo)
NAIROBI, Kenya - An estimated 2.6 million Kenyans are infected with jiggers, a flea-like parasite that burrows under the skin. Left untreated, jiggers can lead to all kinds of secondary infections, loss of mobility and even death. Some 1.5 million children cannot go to school because of the scourge. A Kenyan organization has assisted in research for the world's first jiggers drug and has been holding medical clinics to help those suffering from the condition, which is linked to poverty and poor hygiene. 
 
It is dubbed "the silent killer" because everyone wants to hide the condition. The feeling of shame at having it is unbearable.

Agnes Wayua knows this only too well. Her 10 children were infected with jiggers; one of her children and a grandchild died because of it.
 
"For that long time of jiggers and poverty, nobody recognized me in the village," she said. "Nobody could visit me or even greet me until they saw some signs of help.  They began coming in one by one to join me because of what they are seeing.  But some others even up to today gossip about me."

Help came from Ahadi Trust Kenya, an aid group aiming to wipe out jiggers in East Africa, provide support for those who have the condition, and reduce its stigma.

Kenyan Organization Focuses on Scourge of Jiggersi
|| 0:00:00
X
May 31, 2012 5:36 PM
An estimated 2.6 million Kenyans are infected with jiggers, a flea-like parasite that burrows under the skin. Left untreated, jiggers can lead to all kinds of secondary infections, loss of mobility and even death. Some 1.5 million children cannot go to school because of the scourge. A Kenyan organization has assisted in research for the world's first jiggers drug and has been holding medical clinics to help those suffering from the condition, which is linked to poverty and poor hygiene. Cathy Majtenyi reports from VOA's East Africa bureau.

Stanley Kamau, Ahadi Trust Kenya's founder and executive director, says he and his group were targets of intense abuse from politicians and community members when they started, five years ago.
 
"I could not visit my village where I was born," he said. "I could not go to the schools where I went to school. The schools I had for many years contributed in building, they could not welcome me."
 
The parasites are usually found under the skin of the feet and hands. Children, who account for more than half the cases, are especially impacted. If their feet are badly infected, they cannot walk to school.
 
Ahadi Trust Kenya was eventually able to open medical camps where the affected come to get treatment and counseling.
 
Social worker Mourine Wangari Karanja is part of an army of volunteers who do what most people would refuse to do.
 
 "I am doing this out of love," said Karanja. "When I was growing up, there were many people around me with jiggers. I used to watch my mother remove jiggers from these people. Now, I am a mother, I spoke to the health workers who gave me medicine to treat the ones who are infected."
 
Karanja and her colleagues treat jigger-infested body parts with soap, water, potassium permanganate, and lotion. There is no drug to cure jiggers, but a German researcher is developing a drug after working with Ahadi Trust Kenya.
 
The tide is turning. Where once Ahadi Trust Kenya and their clients were shunned, they are now becoming celebrities of sorts.
 
Miss World 2011, Miss Europe, Miss World Kenya and the grandson of former South African president Nelson Mandela all washed jigger-infested feet at the group's most recent medical clinic, thrilling the crowds with their presence.

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Concerned from: USA
June 01, 2012 1:27 AM
Is this the WHOLE of KENYA or a particular part of the country? I know these infestation is concentrated in a specific area, not the whole of "KENYA", so please make it clear to the rest of the world! Thank you.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid