Development and Alumni Relations

Podoconiosis, or podo, is a form of elephantiasis caused by many years of barefoot contact with irritants in highland red clay soil. The disease, which is both physically and socially devastating for the sufferer, has been identified in more than 25 countries in the tropics of Central and South America, Africa and Asia.

Woman farming in a field podoPodo feetHowever, it is Ethiopia, a country synonymous with some of the world’s finest coffee beans, which has more recorded cases than anywhere else in the world – over 1.6 million people there suffer from the debilitating disease. With a further 38 million people at risk, podo is a genuine threat to the lives of some of the planet’s poorest and most vulnerable.

Perhaps almost as shocking as the great number of people suffering with or at risk of contracting the disease, is that podo is actually 100% preventable. In fact, according to Gail Davey, Professor of Global Health and Epidemiology at Brighton and Sussex Medical School: 

“We can eliminate podo in our lifetime by delivering a simple and inexpensive programme of treatment and prevention.”

For as little as £15 per patient, per year this little-known, but widespread and treatable tropical disease can become a thing of the past for millions of people in Ethiopia and around the world. 

Help put an end to podo here – all donations, no matter how small, can make a big difference.

Small Batch logoTreating man with podoDuring the course of Sussex’s Preventing Podo campaign, an exciting new partnership between the University and Small Batch Coffee Roasters has evolved. As there are more recorded cases of podo in Ethiopia, where the origins of coffee have been traced back to, Sussex alumni and Small Batch founder Al Tomlins and Head of Marketing & Digital, Nick Barlow, seized the opportunity to support this great cause. Explaining how Small Batch came to partner with Sussex, Nick said:

“We got involved with podo when we were approached to feature in Falmer, the Sussex alumni magazine. They mentioned the podo charity and its connections with Ethiopia – a country we do a lot of work in – and it just made a lot of sense to be involved together.”

To launch this collaboration, Small Batch are celebrating all things Ethiopian this month. A themed evening with Ethiopian food, beer and music was held at their Jubilee Street branch, profits from which have been generously donated to Sussex’s Preventing Podo campaign. In addition, the event saw the release of their Ethiopian single origin coffee, with proceeds from sales also going to support Preventing Podo.

Find out more about podo, its prevention and treatment, and the outstanding work of Professor Gail Davey in this short film.