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Anti-Jigger crusaders want establishment of clinics

Volunteers participating in Anti-Jigger Campaigns in Kakamaga have called on the government and partners to set up clinics in jigger infested zones to support their eradication efforts.

The Volunteers led by the Kenya Scouts Association, Safety Professionals and Experts in Disaster Management Volunteers Association of Kenya (SPEDVAK), Messengers of Hope and Students from Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST) said the clinics will be a boost to their fight against jiggers.

Safety Professionals and Experts in Disaster Management Volunteers Association of Kenya (SPEDVAK) National Secretary Canon Odhiambo sprays chemicals to fumigate the house of a victim of jigger infestation at Mukulusu Village in Kakamega County during an Anti-Jigger campaign. Photo by Moses Wekesa

Speaking at Mukulusu Village in Kakamega County during an Anti-Jigger campaign, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SPEDVAK Pius Masai said, majority of the victims of jigger infestation were willing to seek treatment but lack of an appropriate facility forces them to suffer in silence.

He said the rate at which a victim is attacked by the jiggers is high and within some few weeks or months the jiggers multiply and spread to other body parts noting that a clinic will assist the majority.

Masai gave an example of a man aged 57, Yapi Mwirosi, who was attacked by the Jiggers in the last two months after relocating from Nairobi and by the end of the second month, jiggers had spread from his foot to fingers and elbows.

Mwirosi is now forced to use clutches to move due to the intensity of the Jigger infestation which have deformed his feet.

“I cannot walk normally as other people, the pain in my feet is too much, I use Clutches whenever I want to move,” he said.

Mwirosi hopes that he will recover after receiving treatment administered by Volunteers on Saturday. His mother also got treated and their house fumigated.

Masai said with the clinics, volunteers who are spread across the county will use the facility to treat the victims. The victims will also have a physical place to seek treatment when they are attacked by the jiggers.

“It will also be easy for those infested with jiggers to visit the clinic and get treated because in the current set up they fear going to hospitals for fear of being stigmatised,” he pointed out.

He said with their activities happening once every quarter, there is a high risk of many people in jigger infested zones to suffer before volunteers come to their rescue.

The CEO also called on community members to support the initiative and accept those who are affected and even support them in seeking medication in health facilities.

The National Secretary of SPEDVAK Canon Odhiambo expressed worry that the victims of jigger infestation may develop episodes of depression and even suffer from mental health.

“They can develop dissociative disorders because people don’t want to be associated with them, they cannot work and their life is in a mess. They just wait for mercy from Volunteers,” he said.

At the same time, Kakamega County Scouts Commissioner Maureen Imbayi mobilised scouts in the region to start a kitty where they will donate clothing, foodstuffs and other items to support the affected people whenever they reach out to them during anti-Jigger campaigns.

“We have officially started a scout’s kitty, we shall donate items to support the victims whom we treat against Jiggers,” she noted.

Last Month, the Kakamega County Government entered a five-year partnership with Amref Health Africa to survey and find ways of eradicating neglected tropical diseases among them being eradication of Jiggers.

The partnership is meant to Break the Transmission Strategy (BTS) for the targeted diseases in Kakamega, Bungoma, Vihiga and Trans Nzoia Counties by vaccinating residents in the high risk areas and providing drugs for treatment.

Other diseases targeted are Bilharzia and Intestinal worms both classified as being transmittable via soil or soil-borne diseases.

In an effort to eradicate Jiggers, the Kakamega County Government treated more than 6202 people against the parasites by the end of 2019/2020 financial year.

The County in its 2021/2022 County Annual Development Plan (CADP) targets to administer treatment against jiggers to 9082 people.

In the CADP, the County government fumigated 1241 households against Jiggers by the end of 2019/2020 financial year and targets to fumigate more than 1817 households by the end of the 2021/2022 financial year.

By Moses Wekesa

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