Last week, the media reported that a section of MPs on the health committee had contested a proposal by the Health ministry to spend Shs2 billion on procuring chemicals to treat jiggers in Busoga and Karamoja regions.
The MPs said the money should instead be spent on procuring heifers for the people to provide cow dung and urine to fight jiggers in the two infested regions, their argument being that if government combined the spraying of chemicals with smearing cow dung and urine on the floors, jiggers could be defeated.
The MPs’ suggestion on how the funds should be spent can be considered if it is a viable alternative. However, considering the scale and prolonged period of jigger infestation in Busoga and Karamoja regions, Shs2 billion would be inadequate to buy heifers for every homestead affected by jiggers.
Besides, money alone cannot fight and eradicate jiggers completely. Fighting jiggers must include personal hygiene. And personal hygiene starts with the right attitude about the need to keep our bodies, homesteads and neighbourhoods clean.
Intense debate about jiggers has been raging over the past few years. In 2008, some legislators called for the arrest of people suffering from jigger infestation, claiming “it is total negligence for any sane Ugandan to suffer from jiggers”. They demanded arrests under the Public Health Act, of people for failing to take care of their bodies.
It is crucial for MPs and indeed the general public, especially communities in jigger infested areas, to take interest in seeking solutions for this health concern. The Health ministry should, beyond current plans for treatment, carry out sustained campaigns on public health and hygiene, starting with affected areas and eventually spreading countrywide. This is where government should channel reasonable funding if we are to eradicate jiggers.
In the past, public health personnel used to move around villages to educate people on basic hygiene policies. A homestead was supposed to have facilities such as a pit latrine, bathroom, rack for drying utensils, kitchen, a separate dwelling for animals, etc. Family heads whose homes were found without any of these amenities would face the law. The same vigilance should be carried out under the Public Health Act, which should be enforced.
People must be educated on how to fight and prevent jiggers by informing communities that jigger infestation can be controlled and eventually eradicated through treatment and observing basic hygiene.
Community, religious, cultural and political leaders in Busoga and Karamoja should play an active role in promoting initiatives aimed at ridding the two regions of jiggers.
The issue: Fighting jiggers.
Our view: The Health ministry should, beyond current plans for treatment, carry out sustained campaigns on public health and hygiene…
SOURCE: Daily Monitor