Friday, June 20, 2008

Anti-Jigger Campaign Bearing Fruit

When Ahadi Trust declared that they were dedicating their energies on an anti-jigger campaign, a lot of people put their efforts down to the many money making ventures posing as Non Profit Making Organizations. Miss World Kenya 2005 Cecilia Mwangi’s active involvement was taken as the Paris Hilton dumb blonde syndrome. Or the silly things that beauty queen hopefuls sometimes say they’ll do to change the world. But with the success of the anti-jigger campaigns, people realized that beauty and brains actually mix very well. This young lady has done more. She blends beauty, brains and guts – the ability to get out there and do something.

Few creatures on earth can cause as much torment and anguish for their size as the tiny jigger. These bugs are not only a nuisance but a health hazard too. Usually the female burrows into the skin, mostly feet and then lays it’s eggs there causing swelling, itching and pain. Severe infestation can cause deformity and there is the risk of secondary infections like tetanus or even gangrene. In some cases victims end up with deformed toes and loss of toe nails. In more extreme but rare cases, jiggers have been known to cause death. Thankfully, Ahadi are on the ground in the most affected areas providing counseling and surgical instruments to clinics and dispensaries. For these victims, even just a bottle of Dettol antiseptic is a big blessing.

Treatment is basically surgical extraction of the parasite and this unfortunately raises the scarier problem of spread of HIV through sharing of pins and needles by victims when trying to extract the bugs. People and especially children afflicted by these bugs are often stigmatized and end up with very low self esteem. They can hardly walk let alone play and as such their schooling is interfered with. Many end up dropping out of school and never finding decent jobs, hence spinning the poverty cycle even more.

Majority of Kenyans who grew up in urban areas have no idea what a jigger is. It’s a long forgotten pest that is wrecking havoc in some rural areas as has been exposed by Ahadi Trust. Although it affects many parts of the country, Murang’a District in Central Kenya seems to have borne the brunt of the jigger menace. And the leaders, some of whom probably had a jigger or two in their childhood, forgot about it too. When the topic came up for discussion on the floor of the house after awareness created partly by Ahadi and partly by the media, the Government had no data on jigger prevalence.

But now the word is spreading really well. Bloggers too, who by the way are becoming a very powerful medium in Kenya are also taking time to highlight the problem. It has also caught the attention of parliamentarians with Kalonzo Musyoka donating Kshs.100,000/- towards the campaign and Kenyans living in London pledging a similar amount. With enough dedication from the right quarters, there is every indication that the problem will soon be history.

See also: Soccer For All By 2030?


bOMSEH said...

True, when you are not affected directly, jigger issue tends to rest at the back of your mind. I know about jiggers all too well, been a victim but luckily grandma used to remove them out using needle or acacia prick, so I survived the deformity. I guess it's congratulations on Ahadi Trust.

Wanjiku Unlimited said...

Bomseh when I was doing this article and even after posting I asked several people whether they've ever had a jigger. The problem seems to have been surprisingly common back in the day. Just about everyone has had a brush with the nasty bug.

I've had a jigger once of twice myself but it was taken out by my mum with a needle. The acacia prick I didn't ever try. And I think there was some paraffin involved too if I recall well. But for me too it was never really a problem.

kenyandaughter said...

Got to admdit when I heard of this campaign I went,really I do not think its necessary.I thot it was something that everyone goes thru when they r younger(I got it twice when at my grandmas and all my pals have had them too when younger n yes at dear cucu's).

hongera then to ahadi then n ceciliah for bringing it to our attention.

ps:got to admit I found the itch kind of sweet :)

Wanjiku Unlimited said...

Kenyan daughter you know what, I found the itch really sweet too. But I was afraid to write that so that I may not sort of like ridicule the same folks whose problem I'm trying to highlight.

Now your sweet itch makes 2 of us. Bomseh didn't indicate whether it was the same for him. Was the itch kinda sweet?

BP ONE said...

Where there is a will there is away.
Shiko, when Cecilia Mwangi started this campaign it was an uphill task. Though She clearly indicated her involvement as a personal initiative and her mission just to eradicate the pests, some Kenyans went a head to discredit her efforts by downgrading the ant-jiggers campaign to political gimmick and fundraising for politicitians.Like this letter published on June 26, 2007 by the standard newspaper.
I quote:“But the coverage of the campaign smacks of malice. Some of the pictures we see on TV are of people we do not know. Food and money were used to lure the poor from neighboring constituencies to pose for TV cameras. These are sent overseas for purposes of raising funds for the supposedly jigger-infected residents.The campaigners are cash-strapped political aspirants looking for campaign funds. To give the campaign credibility, an unsuspecting beauty queen was used. Concerned resident, Karung’e.”
I wonder how concerned this Kenyan was?
I am happy to know that she has proved them wrong. To , AHADI TRUST and the anti-jigger campainers, I say congratulation, keep up the good work and your earlier promise. I think they said last year , “the campaign will extend to Bomet, Busia and Kwale”

rags said...

Who would have guessed that a jigger revolution would be stated by Cecilia Mwangi. more power to her.

Mcheku said...

Spot on Rags, you said it! I also thought she was just a 'dumb blonde beauty' type when she started but I love the fact that she has proven me wrong.

I have never heard a jigger myself, ati a sweet itch Kenyandaughter na Wanjiku? Mmmmmmmh!

Wanjiku Unlimited said...

mcheku ha ha ha. You need to experience that itch it's sweet for real.anyway you're lucky you've never had a jigger.

Rags you're right she did a good job and left her mark. she's always be remembered especially by the people whose lives she has touched.

BPONE people said all the nasty things they said but still Ahadi forged on. Now see how they're doing a good job.

Kenyandaughter I cant get to your blog. Why don't you comment with your link please? I want to pay you a visit.