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Global Health Research Programme funds important research on Podoconiosis


Podoconiosis is a debilitating, non-transmissible and preventable neglected tropical disease (NTD) that affects individuals who are exposed over many years to irritant minerals in soil provoking an abnormal inflammatory reaction.

In an article published in the Lancet, research funded by the NIHR Global Health Research Programme and led by researchers from Kings College London, and Brighton and Sussex Medical School are putting podoconiosis in the spotlight.

Long-term exposure through walking, ploughing or going barefoot on specific clay soils appears to trigger changes within the lymph system in the feet and legs leading to swelling of the lower legs and episodes of extreme pain which worsen with prolonged exposure.

Co-author Dr Kebede Deribe from the Centre for Global Health Research at Brighton and Sussex Medical School said:

Podoconiosis is a widespread and important public health problem in Ethiopia. Nationwide mapping estimated that there are 1.5 million people living with podoconiosis in Ethiopia alone with more than 35 million people at risk. Podoconiosis has been documented in 32 countries worldwide with the highest burden concentrated in Africa.”

Podoconiosis is preventable through consistent wearing of shoes from early childhood, good foot hygiene and covering floors. Health education is vital, so patients understand the causes of the disease and stigma is reduced. However, awareness of ‘mossy foot’ is low, even among health professionals. The team argues that shoes, as part of clothing, should be considered as a human right.

For further information on this study please see here.

To read more about NIHR Global Health Research Programme click here.