The Ministry of Health has warned that over 10 million Kenyans are at risk of jigger-infestation if no efforts are made to eradicate the parasite.
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe raised the red flag during the national jiggers’ awareness day celebrations at Ng’elechom Primary School in Teso South Sub County, in Busia County.
In a speech read by the head of the Public Health Department Susan Mutua, Kagwe called for concerted efforts from all the stakeholders geared towards assisting those affected by the parasite.
He lauded the Busia County Government, Ahadi Kenya Trust and other proactive stakeholders in the county for their efforts in helping victims affected by jigger-menace through awareness creation noting that in the year 2020 only 37,523 cases of jiggers were attended to in public health facilities.
“The medical professionals and the society at large need to be more proactive in helping infested individuals, households and communities to overcome the menace and reduce the stigma related to the fleas.” he said
Busia County Health and Sanitation Chief Officer Jonathan Ino reiterated Kagwe’s call for collaborative efforts disclosing that the county government has set aside funds in the budget to strengthen the department’s capacity to combat the parasites.
“We have already identified the affected areas across the county. We will procure chemicals to fumigate the identified areas in order to cut the parasites transmission cycle,” he stated.
He noted that poor household hygiene is among the leading factors that have contributed to the jigger menace in the county revealing of his department’s plan to empower Community Health Volunteers to enable them deal with the jiggers’ menace.
Ahadi Kenya Trust CEO Dr. Stanley Kamau who has been at the forefront of combating the jigger-menace in Busia County said the best way to eradicate jiggers is to empower the community with the relevant information in regards to the parasite.
According to the Ministry of Health there are over two million people in Kenya spread across 42 counties who are victims of jigger infestation.
Jiggers have a major socio-economic impact as it immobilizes its victims and renders them economically nonproductive.
Jigger infestation also impacts the education sector especially in the rural areas negatively as it affects the children’s rate of school attendance, performance in outdoor activities, academic performance and general retention.
This year’s theme was ‘Community Empowerment through Eradication’.
By Melechezedeck Ejakait