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First Lady Margaret Kenyatta Speech on Jiggers

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β€œThe jigger menace is a significant health and socio-economic burden, not only to the affected households and communities, but also to the whole country,” said First Lady Margaret Kenyatta. β€œAn estimated 2 million Kenyans in 24 counties continue to suffer the debilitating effects and social stigma associated with this parasitic vermin 50 years after independence!”

SPEECH BY H.E. MARGARET KENYATTA, THE FIRST LADY OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA, DURING THE LAUNCH OF THE NATIONAL POLICY GUIDELINES ON PREVENTION AND CONTROL OF JIGGER INFESTATIONS ON MARCH 3RD, 2015

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am delighted to lead the nation in launching the National Policy Guidelines on Prevention and Control of Jigger Infestations in Kenya today.

It is gratifying that we have finally come together to address the plight of the long-suffering jigger victims, mostly children, the elderly and handicapped Kenyans.

The jigger menace is a significant health and socio-economic burden, not only to the affected households and communities, but also to the whole country.

An estimated 2 million Kenyans in 24 counties continue to suffer the debilitating effects and social stigma associated with this parasitic vermin 50 years after independence!

Another 10 million Kenyans are at risk of infestation, implying that the policy we are launching today could not have come at a more opportune time.

I am happy to note that these guidelines emphasize a multi-sectoral approach which addresses underlying causes of jigger infestations, including awareness creation, social support and poverty reduction.

These causes of infestation, such as lack of information, poverty and neglect, were not effectively addressed until now. As a result, jiggers slowly started afflicting our people.

Unlike other diseases which do not discriminate between social classes, jigger infestations have socio-economic risk factors which include social neglect, poor housing, inadequate water supply and sanitation, and poor domestic and personal hygiene. As such, it is a disease of the vulnerable and neglected households.

I wish to thank Ahadi Kenya Trust and other humanitarian organizations for courageously raising a national awareness campaign on jiggers among the political and business leaders and their unrelenting effort in helping jigger victims cope with the menace.

I also laud the Ministry of Health for initiating the idea of an Annual Jigger Awareness Day to be marked on the 3rd of March every year. This is in recognition of the fact that solutions to our health problems come from us as individuals, communities, counties and as a country. It will be the first health awareness day not initiated by the World Health Organization (WHO) in Kenya.

I note that with the strategic and the high–impact actions such as the ones recommended in this document, jiggers can be eliminated from affected households and communities within a relatively short period.

Mexico was faced with a similar problem of endemic jigger infestations but achieved a jigger–free status through concerted efforts such as the ones recommended in these guidelines. Brazil and Jamaica are on the way to achieving total elimination of jiggers.

There is no reason why Kenya cannot make a similar achievement. I therefore, urge all the concerned stakeholders to do their part, and work closely with each other towards the realization of this national and humanitarian goal.

The first steps should obviously be the distribution and dissemination of the guidelines to the stakeholders, especially county governments, who are the lead agencies in the implementation of health programs in the country.

I wish you all the best in putting down strategies and taking actions aimed at implementing the guidelines.

With these few remarks, I wish to declare the National Policy Guidelines on Prevention and Control of Jigger Infestations officially launched.

 

Thank you.

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