Prevention and Treatment
In Ethiopia, the Mossy Foot Project strives to educate the population about podoconiosis: what it is and how to treat and prevent it. Along with this we aim to help remove the social stigma associated with the disease so as to be more effective in exposing and treating it. Many of those involved in the education process are present or former patients, who are in an exceptional position to carry the message effectively.
The most obvious strategy for the eradication of podoconiosis is simply preventing the malady by:
- Wearing shoes and socks to prevent the occurrence of the disease in those not yet afflicted
- Wearing shoes and socks to stop the progression of the disease among those already afflicted
- Educating young children and their parents in prevention strategies
- Utilizing former patients to spread the word as well as assist in treatment
The Mossy Foot Project has 16 clinics in the Wolaitta zone. Each clinic treats over 200 patients per month.
At a patient’s first visit, their feet and legs are thoroughly washed, then soaked in a diluted bleach solution. This is followed by applying an antifungal ointment to their legs and feet. Patients are also given lymphatic massage to reduce swelling and they are taught how to massage their legs and feet at home.
Health care workers at the clinics wrap the patients’ legs with elastic bandages to apply compression. The patients remove the bandages at night and elevate their feet, then rewrap the bandages the next day.
Mossy Foot Project provides special oversized shoes for the patients to wear so that they are able to keep their feet clean until the feet return to a normal size. These shoes are made by former mossy foot patients, providing them useful employment. You can read about the detailed steps for making shoes here.
Precise measurements are taken of the patients’ legs at each visit to monitor progress in their treatment.
Despite the condition of their legs and feet, patients will often walk miles to receive their treatment from a Mossy Foot clinic.
These two pictures of Gadana Gata, a young man who was treated at the Mossy Foot clinic, show how after just a week of treatment, the swelling of his leg has decreased dramatically. This young man, who dropped out of school in fifth grade because of his condition, was greatly encouraged to continue faithfully with the treatment steps.