Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Nearly 6,000 villagers at Uru South Ward in Moshi rural district,Kilimanjaro region are infected with jiggers, seriously crippling their capacity to engage in productive activities.

Uru south ward executive officer, Jane Mandara says as the country struggles to control Malaria and HIV/AIDS diseases, the jiggers-infested victims are in a cocoon of their own.

They have become so accustomed to jiggers that nothing else matters. Not that they care less about other pivotal issues; to them, the jiggers problem is the most pressing.

Worse, the victims face stigma and discrimination associated with jiggers. In most pats of Uru south ward, jigger infestation is held as a curse while in other areas, people affected by jiggers are often considered outcasts.

“They know little about everything else as they are busy grappling with a problem Tanzanians seem to ignore,” Mandara said during a one day camp to treat victims of jiggers at Uru.

The camp was convened by Mildmay International Tanzania in collaboration with Ahadi Trust of Nairobi and the Ministry of
Health and Social Welfare, through the regional secretariat.

Mildmay Tanzania country director Mukami Rimberia said jiggers are not just a social issue, as those infected are looked upon as misfits or irresponsible.

The overwhelming impact of poverty drives the infestation but also hinders families from raising themselves beyond this status, she said.

“This campaign is only a start. We need to address the factors that drive jiggers infestation, which is chiefly poverty. We will therefore be following this campaign with efforts to support affected families, to improve their housing and social economic status,” said Ms Rimberia.
Jiggers are mainly viewed as a nuisance but can cause severe health and psychological problems such as low self esteem resulting from the stigmatization.
Being infested with jiggers is more than a nuisance, as it can cause severe inflammation (ulceration, and fibrosis; also lymphangitis, gangrene, sepsis) loss of toenails, auto amputation of the digits, and risk of secondary infection such as tetanus that can lead to death.

Mildmay was leading the campaign, technically supported by Ahadi Trust, a well-known NGO in the sub-region.

Also rendering support were celebrities from Kenya and Tanzania, namely Richard Bezuidenhout, the Big Brother Africa winner in 2007, Janeth BhokeEgina, Big Brother Africa participant in 2011 and Cecilia Mwangi, Miss Kenya 2005.

The campaign was also a partnership with local corporates including Bonite Bottlers who donated refreshments, Nakumatt supermarket chain supporting with supplies and a staff team from Bank of Africa and Standard Chartered Bank, Moshi branch.

Dr. Stanley Kamau, executive director of Ahadi Trust Kenya said that left untreated, jiggers can lead to all kinds of secondary infections, loss of mobility and eventual death.

Ahadi Trust has assisted in research for the world's first jiggers treatment drug and has been holding medical clinics to help those suffering from the condition, linked to poverty and poor hygiene.

It is dubbed "the silent killer" because everyone wants to hide the condition, since an overwhelming feeling of shame at being in such a condition is often unbearable.


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