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MMUST TAKES IMPACTFUL JIGGER RESEARCH OUTPUTS TO COMMUNITIES IN HOMABAY COUNTY

A team of prolific researchers from Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST) are transforming communities through impactful jigger research that is set to completely metamorphosize the treatment of jigger infestation in Kenya and beyond.  This was exhibited on Friday, 20th May, 2022, when they mounted an outreach at Andiwo Primary School in Kanyamwa, Homabay County. The project is anchored in the Centre for African Medicinal and Nutritional Flora and Fauna (CAMNFF) whose centre leader is Prof. Maurice Vincent Omolo, a member of the Department of Pure and Applied Chemistry.

 


jigger2Mr. Anderson Misati, a MMUST postgraduate student from KEMRI attending to a jigger infested patient at Andiwo Primary School in Kanyamwa, Homabay County.


Other notable members of the project include the Director, Science Park Innovation and Incubation Centre-Prof. John Muoma, Dean, School of Natural Sciences -Dr. Joseph Owino, Coordinator, Webometrics and Short Courses, Dr. Dennis Ochieno, Deputy Director, Postgraduate Studies, Dr. Consolata Ngala, Prof. Paul Tarus- University of Eldoret and Dr. James Nonoh-Maseno University. CAMNNF also houses a pool of researchers from varied fields, including, Prof.  Asenath Sigot and the Director, Open Distance   and E- Learning (ODEL), Prof. Gordon Nguka who handle the nutritional research aspects. 

Apart from treating those afflicted by jiggers, the researchers are also collecting jigger flea specimens for further molecular biology work and swabs from the wounds for microbiology work. The Outreach has encompassed a pool of postgraduate students from MMUST, Maseno University and University of Eldoret.


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A patient’s feet after treatment using MMUST’s researchers’ formulation


 “We have found a solution from nature, our formulation is derived from plants and is set to make jigger treatment painless and accessible to our communities.  The advantages of our new formulation are that it is easy to use and does not cause much pain,” said Prof. Omolo.

Additionally, Prof. Muoma added that the project was also aimed at establishing the ability of ‘Tunga Penetrans' to survive in black cotton soil since they are mostly associated with red soil. “It is important to find out if soil diversity contributes to jigger infestation. We will then relate the findings with historical aspects,” stated Prof. Muoma.

Speaking during the exercise, the former Director, PSSP, Mr. Dishon Wanjere, applauded the researchers for endeavoring to impact the livelihoods of communities through research. He noted that through joint efforts, the problem of jiggers will be fully solved. Noting that jigger infestation is related to poverty, Mr. Wanjere encouraged the researchers to include a socio-economic component in their research in order to completely eliminate the jigger threat.

The Head teacher of Andiwo Primary School, Mr. Leonard Otieno expressed gratitude for MMUST’s timely effort, adding that it would assist in the eradication of jiggers. “This is the first time an institution is working with our community regarding the jigger menace.  I thank MMUST for this timely intervention,” said Mr. Otieno.

Universities have the professional and moral duty not only to generate knowledge, but also to institute measures that can mitigate the serious socio-economic problems facing communities. Jigger infestation is one of the challenges that requires such intervention. 


By Dr. Lydia Anyonje and Linet Owuor

Photos by Wilberforce Shiundu