is an inflammatory skin disease caused by tiny ‘jigger fleas’, which live in the sand in Sub-Saharan climates. The fleas burrow deep into the feet of their victims to lay eggs and often have to be cut out with a scalpel.
Jigger fleas are particularly prevalent in rural areas of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Severe swelling leaves many sufferers unable to walk and infection can lead to amputation and even death if left untreated.
Fraser Hunter, a final year product design
student at Edinburgh Napier, believes the footwear he has created could be the answer.
“Tungiasis doesn’t receive much attention in the Western world because it doesn’t tend to kill people like malaria but the disease can be crippling to African communities and the hundreds of thousands of people who are infested with jigger fleas each year,” said Fraser.
“Many people in rural East Africa are very poor and walk barefoot or wear open-toed sandals, which allows the fleas to attack their feet.
“The pain and swelling stops adults from being able to walk to work and prevents children going to school, trapping people in poverty.
“The shoes I have created, which are for wearing through the day and at night, have been made using a combination of polyester mesh, cotton, silicone and recycled car tyres and plastic bottles.
“While the day shoes can be made using traditional cobbling methods, the night mesh shoes can be put together using a simple sewing kit and could be compared to a mosquito net for feet."