One man’s effort to eradicate jiggers (2024)

Touched by the jigger problem in Bugiri District, Kasim Sajjabi sought a solution to the infestation. After treating the first bunch of people, the rest trusted him and gathered for treatment everytime he came around. Edwin Nuwagaba caught up with Sajjabi who is using hydrogen peroxide to ‘treat’ jiggers.

When Kasim Sajjabi a project planning and management consultant in Kampala went to visit his relatives in Bude Budhaya Sub County in Bugiri District three weeks ago, he was shocked by the number of people who were suffering from jiggers. “I found jiggers were common place. Out of the 500 children he met, only 50 did not have jiggers,” he said.

Touched by what he saw, he promised a solution the next time he would return. He went around searching for the cheapest solution. And finally, he found hydrogen peroxide, which is what he says he used to treat magnitudes of jigger- infested rural people in Bude.

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“Friends who are medical workers gave me a couple of options. I did a cost analysis and settled for this,” he says before adding that hydrogen peroxide is more of a disinfectant which after, it has killed the jiggers, protects wounds. “When I pass it around the affected part, the jiggers immediately burst. The chemical searches for the jigger and when it finds it, it produces froth,” he said.

Among the worst cases that Sajjabi witnessed, were two boys who had jiggers on their elbows, knees and the feet. “One boy even wanted to take off his shorts to show me his bums. But I told him he will be fine.” He returned to this place the following day on Sunday and went back the weekend that followed.

He has a team of 10 volunteers who have set camp and are now busy treating people with hydrogen peroxide. He went with two from Kampala whom he facilitated with Shs100, 000 and the rest were sympathisers from Bude. “I have now rented a small room where my volunteers sit,” he said. He said he has also treated people in the neighbouring villages of Muterere and Nsavu.

He said people in this area never had a solution to their problem, because even the government wasn’t doing enough, and so, after treating the first bunch, the rest trusted him and gathered every time he came to give treatment. But hydrogen Peroxide, Sajjabi says is simply an immediate solution. “Government intervention is needed,” he said. But most of all, he added that not until people improve their personal hygiene will jiggers be overcome.

While he may not know what contents are in hydrogen peroxide, he was proud it had cured many in this area. “I am hesitant to say it is a pesticide but whatever the case, it has the ingredient that kills the parasite.” And he added that for the time he has applied it on the people, there hasn’t been any side effect reported.

Single handedly, Sajjabi has treated between 300 and 400 people, but with his volunteers, he said they have treated a minimum of 500 people. 250ml of hydro peroxide costs him Shs1,500. He mixes it with 250ml of water. “It is always thick so I don’t use much of it. A bottle of mineral water can treat at least 50 people,” he said.
So far, Sajjabi has spent about Shs400,000 on buying the chemical, on transport, feeding the volunteers and a few handouts to the sick people.

What the doctors say
But much as Sajjabi’s story sounds impressive, Dr Godfrey Lubega an orthopedic at Mulago Hospital and private practitioner said hydrogen peroxide was not a proper way of treating jiggers because it is simply an antiseptic. “In fact it worsens the effects because you would be leaving the whole thing inside.” He said the proper way is to; “Physically remove the jigger and then apply an antiseptic.

Dr Lubega said the best way is to control it through improvement of personal hygiene. He termed Sajjabi’s treatment as that which deals with the outside and leaves the inside untreated, which he said is not effective. He said jiggers are caused by a flea which is brought about by poor hygiene and sanitation.

Dr Vincent Karuhanga too, does not recommend the use of hydrogen peroxide. “Personally I don’t, because when a person has jiggers, his or her skin becomes protective. And once it is opened, it creates room for the germs to enter and that can cause tetanus,” he said. He explained that, it is wrong to say that a jigger can burst out of a small hole where it penetrated. “Yes it can be killed, but it remains inside and that means you will get secondary bacterial infections which can also cause infections in the blood,” he said.

According to him, the proper way of treating jiggers is to remove them with a safety pin and use a disinfectant thereafter. But prevention, he added was vital. And he concluded by saying that hydrogen peroxide can be used only if there is no alternative.

When all this was put to Sajjabi, he said he had only done what he could as a lay man. “They are right because they are technical people, but what is important here, is that the jiggers die, because they are deprived of oxygen,” he said.

One man’s effort to eradicate jiggers (2024)

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