Many children in the third world countries do not have the basic necessity of foot wear. They are used to being bare foot. They are not aware of the benefits of foot wear. One of the leading cause of disease in developing countries is soil-transmitted parasites which penetrate the skin through open sores. Wearing sandals can prevent this and the risk of loosing a leg.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that there are many hazards associated with going barefoot in contaminated sand, soil and dirty water, but the most obvious public health problem is hookworm disease.
Shoes also help prevent strongyloidiasis, podoconiosis and nonfililal elephanticisis. In many developing countries where stagnant water is a problem, these diseases are almost a condition of life. Parasites breed in such water, with females releasing 3,000 to 200,000 eggs per day depending on their type. Children sometimes swim in parasite-infested waters, and in the absence of suitable drinking water, people may be forced to drink it and use it for cooking purposes. Amongst the poorest of the poor, treatment for parasitic infections becomes a vicious cycle.
Once parasites enter the body, they often perforate the intestines, circulatory system, lungs, liver and other organs, and cause physical trauma. They can lump together in balls, and travel into and erode or block the brain, heart and lungs. On occasion, these lumps have been mistaken for cancerous tumors. Parasites also give off metabolic waste products that poison our bodies. Left untreated, the infections they cause can result in the loss of limbs, chronic illness and even death.
Parasitic infections often prevent adults from being able to work and children from being able to attend school. The relationships between illness, access to education, and poverty have been well-documented by organizations such as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
Although most parasitic diseases are easily preventable, in the last 20 years or so, the fight against HIV/AIDS and malaria has captured public attention and resources resulting in their being overlooked, which is why they have earned the name “diseases of neglect.” Through the efforts of “Shoes for Africa,” YES, Inc. envisions increased awareness about these conditions, and is working to serve as a bridge between global and grassroots organizations seeking to eradicate them and alleviate poverty in Africa. (Read and listen to an article on parasitic diseases on Morning Edition on National PublicRadio (NPR).