Although a special treatment campaign is on in Kamuli district to save victims of jiggers from premature death, any daring attempt to visit the countryside with open shoes will likely bring a few fleas between your toes.

Despite the establishment of treatment units in urban centres, complete eradication of the jigger to save poor rural Basoga living in shanty dusty structures that have become a luxurious habitat of the jigger flea is still an uphill task unless causal factors like poverty, ignorance and negative attitude towards work are addressed by government.

Just within less than two kilometers from the treatment centre at Kamuli town, you find numerous jigger sufferers who either due to inability or ignorance or negligence have never attended the clinic and are not bothered. In Bugirere village, Kitayundhwa sub-county, the LC-1 chairman, Moses Bazira, is almost going nuts following the refusal of the most affected residents to visit the treatment centre.

He vows to drag them to court for negligence.
“I am now left with no alternative but to sue these people for keeping jiggers in my village,” Bazira told The Observer on October 13 at his home.
He said many ill people had refused to go for treatment even after the government provided free transport and free treatment.

So what is the problem?

This question was not answered with seriousness by the residents. They said they have from time immemorial lived with the fleas and should not be bothered now.

“This government has better issues to address and is now resorting to meager things like jiggers,” said one man dressed in dirty garments.
The Buwaya LC-3 chairman in Mayuge, Nelson Wandira, is similarly opposed to the setting up of treatment centers. He says there is no jigger epidemic in the region, calling the media attention a deliberate attempt to divert government from more pertinent issues here.

However, the Kamuli LC-1 chairman, Bazira, admits jiggers are real in his village, even volunteering names of the most affected persons who have refused to go for treatment as James Lwamaza, Mazia Kalira and the children in the home of Naika David.

Bazira explained that the jigger epidemic started some two years ago in a few homes but has now spread all over the village. He attributed it to poverty, ignorance and extreme neglect of personal and home hygiene.

“The most affected are the adversely poverty stricken homes with families living in dusty grass thatched houses with mud walls together with livestock,” he said.

Most hit are children, the elderly, the mentally retarded and disabled persons. Betty Musalwa, a nurse at a drug shop in the district, says prior to the establishment of the treatment centre at Kamuli, most affected residents would go to her for treatment.

Musalwa still receives 15 jigger related cases on a daily basis. She says she gives the victims first aid and then refers them to a nearby health centre at Butayundhwa.

Witchcraft & Cultural delusions

A bedridden Rose Matama, 72, of Namisambya village could not hold back tears when The Observer knocked at her door. According to her, she never expected any visitor at that particular time because her son normally opens her door in the morning and only returns in the evening with the single day’s meal to close the door for the night till the next day.

In a brief interview that followed the visit, she told her story amid tears rolling down her wrinkled cheeks. The old woman, whose fingers, toes and other visible parts of her body show evidence of jiggers underneath, believes she was bewitched by the same neighbours who killed her husband and have now sent the jigger fleas to kill her as well.

Matama, who refuses to believe that Western medicine can heal her, said she had never heard of the treatment centre in Kamuli town, about three kilometers away from her home.

“Since my childhood I have never seen such an attack of jiggers and the treatment of jigger victims has never been heard of, and I believe it cannot save me from those determined to send me to the grave like they did to my husband,” she said.

The old woman, who sleeps on a bare papyrus mat with nothing to cover her but her gomesi, said she has lost most of her friends after suffering from the jiggers. Surprised that this writer had dared enter her house, Matama said many people fear to do so for fear of carrying the jigger spirit sent to kill her.
The traditional chief of Kigulu in Iganga district agrees with Matama.

Chief Patrick Izimba Gologolo said ancestors of Basoga are angry that they have failed to install a Kyabazinga agreeable to all.
“Failure to install a Kyabazinga over the Busoga Kingdom has annoyed our ancestors who have resorted to sucking blood from residents through jiggers,” he said.

He added the epidemic can only increase despite government’s efforts. However, the Kamuli District Health Inspector, Alex Mulindwa, who is directly in charge of jigger eradication in the district, attributes the epidemic to poverty, ignorance and negligence in the observation of body and home hygiene.

Mulindwa explains that both due to poverty and ignorance, many residents share their tiny dusty houses with livestock, giving the fleas a chance to choose between humans or livestock as their host.

He warned that jiggers can kill by not only causing anemia and dehydration but also exposing those affected to other diseases, including HIV/AIDS through the sharing of the sharp implements used to extract them.

The Kamuli District Health Educator, David Mbadhwe, told this writer that Butanzi and Butayundhwa are so far the worst affected sub-counties.
He said his office is moving throughout the entire district sensitising residents to observe proper hygiene and not believe in misleading information that jiggers are a curse from ancestors.


0 #1 Sharon Mugerwa 2010-10-18 00:15
You people, jiggers have affected Busoga very true. But Ugandan communities are generally infected with parasites of some sort. Check bed bugs, my son daughter goes to Seeta High school.

One of the prestigious private schools with school fess minimum 700,000Shs But their dormitory is infested with bed bugs which am sure some child brought from home. But its upto the school to fumigate its facilities. But they did not. when I took back my daughter she complained of the non sleepless nights due to bed bugs.

So please families, institutions and individuals let s all be vigilant. Lets avoid such simple health issues. Buy a insecticides and spray cockroaches, jiggers, bedbugs etc. These are simple things we can avoid.
0 #2 Juma K 2010-10-18 00:19
Lets keep clean. Ugandan households are just extremly dirty. The Basoga have experiences jiggers for sometime now especially Kamuli district.

We can still help our people to overcome such infestations.

If you also check on the general government statistics, those are the poorest communities, low water access, low education enrollment name it.
You just need to over hual the whole service system there.
0 #3 Kasozi 2010-10-18 03:30
It is high time for our Basoga, brothers Sisters to wake up and stop this Lazziness and teach their people hygine other wise they will all perish. Ignorance is killing them as usual.
0 #4 Balaba 2010-10-18 06:26
uganda is a place of wonders.
is this the busoga the president regulary visits with his cronies in the "prosperity for all programs"!

its very disturbibg that we have people at the helm of a govt which claims to have brought development & posperity while its people are dying of a basic hygiene related issues like jiggers!!

next thing you will have incumbent MP coming to the same people to ask for vote! telling them how the NRM govt & its god father has brought peace & development! my good lord. no body will dare ask them what they have done for the people & point to them that they are parasites who have fed & prospered on their ignorance. instead they will take the piece of soap , vote correctly & remain in their poverty & ignorance.

people cant you see what has kept you in your misery for the last 30 years? it is high time you made a change and taste the workings of new leaders. its a better risk to take than staying with the useless staus quo.
0 #5 Osinge Ignatius Ivan 2010-10-18 07:59
This people have supported the NRM govt for so long, how come it has taken govt long to respond to their problem.

They have decided to wait for the election year and set up a center to treat the jiggers. Immidatley after elections this will stop.
We have many learned Basoga why don't they take on govt in court for redress.

They keep saying those who vote for the opposition are the ones who will miss services, what has happened to Busoga have they also been voting for the opposition?
0 #6 Dansan 2010-10-18 11:56
Chief Patrik Izimba Gologolo said the ancestors of Busoga are angry that they have failed to istall agreeable Kyabazinga.Fail ure to install over Kyabazinga Busoga Kingdom has annoyed our ancestors who have resorted to sucking blood from residents through jiggers he said
0 #7 Omulongo tenywa 2010-10-18 12:22
You go for things like luck of hygiene, ignorance, lazzines e.t.c, which are quite off the mark!!! It is POVERTY!

What is there in Busoga for the peasant to sell - coffee, cotton, maize that goes for 80/- per kg?? There is NURP/NUSAF for Eastern and Northern Uganda, there is Luwero Triangle for Central and Western Uganda all taking BILLIONs of our taxes to the respective regions, WHAT is there - mega government affirmative action plan for Busoga region???

Like my presidnet once said it is shameful for African leaders to take planes to go to the UN when there people back home are dying of jiggers, only that this time round the blame and shame are going to the jigger surfers and not the president!!! God help Busoga!!!
0 #8 Collins 2010-10-18 14:10
There should not be time wasted on these rather filthy and non-hygienic human beings. Like the locals say, the government has better things to do.

While other countries are going far and wide in discoveries, uganda is only discovering jiggers!! it's laughable! What is the role of local councils and leaders? What do schools teach the children? What do churches preach?

I even have no idea what RDCs are supposed to!! let them tackle such funny issues!! In short, the failure of schools, churches, local leadership and other development officers shows how they have no impact on the people they should be serving! Shame on all those involved!
0 #9 Wasswa 2010-10-18 17:58
Osinge Ignatius Ivan & Balaba i am a good member of the oposition Like you but this is not abt good or bad governance. It's abt people looking after their bodies.
0 #10 Okello Uhuru 2010-10-18 18:48
A few years ago, when the bad blood between President Museveni and late President Milton Obote was still ‘boiling’, I read Museveni saying, “if you see any lame Ugandan, that was Obote child, me I have eradicated polio from Uganda”, and the rally went into jubilation and chanting ‘kisanja’.

But reading again last week of an epidemic of jiggers in Eastern Uganda after 25 years of Museveni’s residence at Uganda’s State House, I thought this must be the big story of shame for Uganda, and the big man.

While polio is a serious killer disease in which one is lucky to be just maimed, and while in the 60’s and 80’s, the science and technology for fighting killer diseases was somewhat low as further research was still being conducted, Uganda as a nation made its mark then by providing a working system of health service delivery.

One could go to a Health centre and be sure to get real service, not only on polio, get healed and go home. These days, the story is different. Our health centres are well-decorated buildings without health services in them.

But, to come back to Obote polio children and Museveni’s jiggered Uganda, I think Obote gets Distinction 1 and our big man gets F9. Simply put, Obote gallantly fought a complex virus with the then available science and resources and reduced polio to near zero, while Museveni cannot eliminate jiggers-a simple hygiene issue-a decade into the 21st Century with the available massive resources and technology! May God save Uganda.
0 #11 ish 2010-10-18 21:01
Mr. Balaba, you have it nailed down.... the idiotic rulers have been in this region over and over again and I believe Busoga has a number of ministers in goverment.

Its had to figure out if the "bamwene" deserve sympathy for the fruits from the 'mustard seeds'.
0 #12 Nkuba Kyeyo 2010-10-19 11:01
the presence of jigger in Uganda is a reflection of what kind of backgrounds the men who lead the conutry come from.

Both Museveni and his vice President did not own or wear shoes untill they were going to join junior 1 . The President did not even sleep in mabati house when he was not in schoool or visting Byanyima .
0 #13 Balaba 2010-10-19 12:25
wasswa its upon government to educate its people about good practice and dangers of bad ones. for instance a caring and responsible govt should have educated the people of busoga about the dangers of staying under the same shelter with animals.

within the same breadth it supposed to come up with solutions on how the people should be empowered to aford building different shelters for the same.

but because its a regime the fact that in busoga people not evrybody may know the consequence ofyou can not disociate hygiene from
0 #14 Jogo 2010-10-19 17:19
OMG, is that health worker 'treating' jiggers without gloves?
0 #15 Pyati Sololo 2010-10-19 21:51
The jigger infestation in Busoga has taken new dimensions: mbu jiggers have entered Kirunda Kivedhindha's brains!
0 #16 Wasswa 2010-10-20 02:28
You are absolutely right mr. Balaba. We are both reading from the same book in different languages.

I don't no abt you but I think their are things which citizens are ment to do for themselves and those tht govmt is ment to do for the citizens. We will soon be in state house. Who do you deal with some 1 who thinks jiggers are caused by juju in the 21st century?

My little research tells me not all busoga is covered in jiggers. This also means not all people from this region are ignorant abt jiggers.  Yes poverty partly plays a role in this and indeed govrmt is also partly responsible this.

But let's also remember that UG is not like USA or UK. Even if we had zero corruption????? ??? let's admit, our govrmt under who (u name him or her) can not provide for 99% of all ugandans . Our president in waiting whn he gets in office may put all things in place for these people but do you expect a person who refuses to take free transport and medication to cure jiggers that are killing him or her to go  for lectures about not leaving with animals? Forcing these people will amout to abusing their rights.

But then should we leave them to die. That's a big NO. I think people should be told     What their responsibilitie s are towards themselves and wht the govrmt is ment to do for them. Surely you don't need lessons from a poor govermt to take a bath, not to sleep with goats, pigs etc however poor you are.

If someone can build a hut for himself, way can,t he make one for goats. Abut this juju men and women, I suggest that parliament passes a law that cracks down on those who hoodwink ignorant People when it comes to health.

Govrmt can't do any thing now coz there is law that stops these juju men from hoodwinking our ignorant bothers and sisters. It's after people have died that laws start falling in place. There is non to prevent the problem. Nic dy mr. Balaba

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