Podoconiosis (or simply ‘podo’) is a form of elephantiasis or swelling of the lower leg triggered by prolonged exposure to irritant minerals in red clay soils. There is no infectious or contagious agent: no parasite, no bacterium, no virus involved. It was classified as a Neglected Tropical Disease by the World Health Organization in 2011.
An estimated 4 million people in highland tropical Africa are affected with podoconiosis, and evidence suggests widespread endemicity in more than 15 countries throughout the world.
Although the disease is both preventable (by avoiding contact with irritant soil) and treatable (through simple, inexpensive foot hygiene and protection), there are as yet no government-backed assistance programs for addressing prevention and treatment of podoconiosis.
Individuals afflicted with podoconiosis suffer debilitating physical effects, including attacks when the leg becomes warm, painful and even more swollen, and are ostracised from their communities because of misconceptions about the cause of podoconiosis.
Footwork encourages integration of podoconiosis control into efforts to eliminate other Neglected Tropical Diseases, and works with those active in other related diseases of the foot.
Our shared goal is to eliminate podoconiosis within our lifetimes.
Footwork is the the International Podoconiosis Initiative.