Neglected Tropical Diseases

From 'Chipatta' to Hope: The Pursuit of an Elephantiasis-Free Life

In Mogovolas, one of the districts of Nampula province, Mozambique, people like Armando Muheva, 81, dream of the possibility of receiving care to overcome disabilities imposed by lymphatic filariasis, one of the Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) that significantly affect the northern region of the country.

Muheva is the head of an 8-member household including his two sisters-in-law who live with him to provide some help. Essentially, farming is their livelihood.

In this testimony, Muheva shares his experience of living with the chronic disease, also called Elephantiasis, which in its advanced stage is characterized by extreme swelling in the limbs, genitals, and breasts.

Armando Muheva, 81 years old “I remember that at the time I started to feel a general malaise. I had fevers and severe headaches. I have intense pains almost all over my body. When I'm sleeping, it warms my feet and scrotum. The pain is later passed on to the stomach area and my heart. Some nights are bad because of these pains."

Because of this disease, I can no longer do the jobs that guaranteed my income here at home. I used to work on my crops without any hindrance. I used to produce cereals and vegetables to feed my family. However, today I am forced to spend most of my time sitting at home because of the size of my scrotum which makes it impossible for me to walk and makes me dependent on my wife who continues to work in the field. I can say that this disease ended my life.

From time to time our harvest is not enough to sustain us and then we depend on the help of neighbors and other goodwill people. I'm practically out of strength for anything else. I feel that I am being a burden to my wife and her sisters who live with us to help us.

I dream of the possibility of regaining my health and abilities so that I can resume my normal life and regain my independence. Muheva

Right now, all help is welcome but my biggest dream is to be healthy so I can work and feed my family.

I want to thank Doctors Without Borders (MSF) for being here in our locality to help us and to share our experiences about this Chipatta. These community meetings have served to inform us more about this disease.

Through these awareness health promotion activities, I learned how it was possible for me to catch this disease and that one of the possible solutions for my scrotum is surgery. Honestly speaking, I can't wait to benefit from this operation as my name is on the list of those who will possibly benefit from this surgery.

Also, I`ve learned that in case of intense foot pain, I shall immediately dive it in a bucket of cold water until the pain stops; drink a lot of water, rest, perform some exercises and maintain my legs as clean as possible. “

In this province of Nampula MSF is supporting the Ministry of Health in screening patients with NTDs. The assistance includes health promotion activities that liaise directly with the community inside and outside health centre premises, aiming to prevent, control and to eliminate these group of diseases.

*Chipatta is a term used in Makhuwa, the most widely spoken language in the capital city of Nampula and its surrounding districts, to refer to lymphatic filariasis.