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SCABIES: A CUTANEOUS ILLNESS DIFFICULT TO ERRADICATE AMONG PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

One of the biggest issues people on the move encounter through their journey to Europe is scabies, a cutaneous illness caused by a mite. It’s really contagious, mainly through physical contact, but also by sharing blankets, clothes or even sleeping in the same tent.

It’s a problem suffered by the majority of the guys and entails a general unease that makes their way even more difficult.

Besides, it affects in many ways to people on the move, not just due to the constant and intense stinging, but because scabies accentuates at night, not letting sleep or rest. Also, given the bad conditions they go through, which implies the use of unclean water, bad personal hygiene, soiled clothes, living in abandoned and dirty places, etc., skin infections appear much easier and difficult to heal.

To completely eradicate scabies is difficult in any situation, even in good living conditions. The medical treatment is a cream called Permethrin, which costs about 30 euros. Including the costs of washing clothes, blankets, water for shower, gas oil for transport and other medical products to treat the infections, a complete individual treatment expense is approximately 70 euros.

The protocol we are trying with the infected people is to, first, evaluate each case and treat the infected injuries after taking a shower. As the cream Permethrin is effective within 48 hours, they have to treat themselves at night so, usually, they end up not doing a correct treatment. That isn’t just due to language barriers, but also because of bad conditions they go through. However, the most important step is changing blankets, sleeping bags and clothes for clean ones. It is crucial to do it because scabies mite is on fabric as well. To eradicate it completely we have to wash everything at 60 degrees, for this reason we need as many blankets and clothes as possible to exchange them.

Changing blankets, sleeping bags and clothes for clean ones is one the most important steps./Photo by Jùlia Marcer

With winter knocking on the door, things get even more complicated. To shower in the freezing cold isn’t easy, neither is changing your clothes when you don’t have other dry ones. For this reason, scabies intensifies now, so treating it is one of our main objectives. With the project Health on the Move, we are trying to face as many sanitary difficulties as possible.

Here in Šid (Serbia), scabies is a huge matter, so any donation would be really helpful, even if it’s destined to, at least, relieve its symptoms.