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.


    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 Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    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.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.