Treatment, prevention and education

In March 2005 four members of the foundation, two of them are doctors, carried out a survey on the cause of elephantiasis. They examined almost 800 patients from nine clinics in the rural area surrounding the towns of Dembidollo and Nekemte. They discovered that podoconiosis is by far the main cause for elephantiasis in this area. Podoconiosis is caused by damage to the lymph system in feet and lower legs by small micro particles that are absorbed into the body through the skin soles of the feet.

During the survey various activities by the mission clinics were determined. Since then it has been very useful and informative to share and compare their individual experiences with elephantiasis patients. It became also easier to show the mission-clinics-programs to other local health centres and hospitals. The 2007 survey was repeated in March 2011. More information about the 2011-survey can be read in the report. It is the aim of our foundation to cooperate with other organisations, research-institutions and hospitals who are also dealing with podoconiosis.

one of the medical doctors of the foundation examines the legs of a patient cleaning of feet with eucalyptus leaves is essential

Treatment, prevention and education
The mission clinics have developed a special "podoconiosis-program". Patients receive their medication and at the same time can be educated about prevention and care. They learn about the necessity to clean their feet and it is possible for patients to receive soap and oil for skincare and to buy cheap (subsidised) shoes. The soap and oil are homemade in the clinics; for the production they use local plants and leaves, like gum-tree leaves, which work as an antiseptic. Patients are shown how to clean their feet using water and (curing) leaves. The best way to prevent being affected by the disease is to wear shoes or boots. Unfortunately the disease is incurable, but further disability can be prevented by continuing wearing shoes, daily and properly cleaning of the feet and being on time with adequate treatment of infections (with antibiotics and antifungal).

plastic shoes on the local market cotton shoes are much better for podoconiosis patients, but only available in towns

Plastic shoes, although suitable to prevent the disease, are inappropriate for people with podoconiosis. These shoes can easily cause fungal infections and are therefore unsuitable for patients. Sturdy cotton shoes are a better option. People with extremely malformed feet can only benefit from special made orthopaedic shoes. However if these shoes are unsubsidized they are not affordable for many people. Even the very essential items such as a plastic basin and soap for washing of the feet and oil to keep the skin soft are for many patients non-payable items. Therefore the foundation offers not only goats and sheep as a loan but also a small gift (cleaning items, shoes or some chickens) to all patients who are in the micro finance project.

Foundation Wollega-Ethiopia stimulates and supports local initiatives in education and prevention.


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