Monday, January 3, 2011

No one should die from a mosquito bite

I had malaria 3 times in 2010.  I ended the year with the scariest yet.  With my symptoms, they are pretty sure I had the onset of Cerebral Malaria.  I had tested positive for Malaria a few weeks prior, and treated it with Coartem.  The Malaria was resistant, and obviously was not out of my system.  Cerebral Malaria is the most serious, and the most deadly form of Malaria.   The mortality ratio is between 20-50%.   If not treated within the first 24-72 hrs, the disease is fatal. 

I was lucky.  I received treatment right away.  I had the money for transport to the hospital.  I had the money to run the tests, and pay for treatment.  I was put on IV Quinine treatment.  A friend of ours, Rachel, is a nurse and was staying at our house at the time.  She was able to switch out, and flush my IV.  I really had the best circumstances possible. 

I know the pain that this disease puts your body through.  The severe body aches, the high fevers, the piercing headaches. And although I don't remember it,  I experienced the most severe stage of this disease, Cerebral Malaria.    I began to hallucinate, and I did not know who I was or where I was.  I was brought back to Al-Shafa, a hospital here in Jinja.  I was admitted.  My Mom was notified, because of the severity of the situation.  Within minutes people back home were praying.  My friends were standing by my bedside, and praying.  The medicine began to work.  My fever came down, and I became more and more coherent into the early hours of Christmas Eve morning. 

I know what Malaria feels like.  But I have no idea what it is like to suffer from those high fevers and extreme body aches, knowing my family can not afford my treatment.  I can't even begin to wrap my brain around it. Your body is in so much pain.  You know that the treatment is there.  But you don't have the money for transport to a nearby clinic or hospital.  And even if you do, you most likely don't have the money to pay for the medicine.  The pain increasing, the fevers climb higher and higher.  I can't even begin to imagine the fear, the helplessness.  I received the best treatment possible in America, and Uganda when I was sick.  I got better within a few days, while there are parents here who have to bury their children because they don't have the money or resources to save them.

Malaria kills on average, 1 million people every year.  The majority of its victims are children living in Africa.  Children who don't sleep under mosquito nets because their parents can't afford them.  Children who come from families who can't provide proper nourishment, let alone treatment for Malaria.  Right now I am praying about what God is calling me to do with bringing awareness and prevention to the Malaria crisis.

I know God calls us to be a voice for the voiceless. In Proverbs 31 we are told to, Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy. People have a right to receive treatment if it is available and can save their life.  A lack of money should not be the reason anyone dies. 


Here is a little bit more about Malaria from two different sources:

In 2008, there were 247 million cases of malaria and nearly one million deathsmostly among children living in Africa. In Africa a child dies every 45 seconds of Malaria, the disease accounts for 20% of all childhood deaths.

- World Health Organization

"Malaria Kills. It is one of the leading causes of death and disease worldwide, especially in the developing world. Malaria is a preventable and treatable infectious disease transmitted by mosquitoes. It kills more than one million people each year, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa, with seventy-five percent of these deaths occurring in children under five.

Malaria also has a devastating economic and social effect as it perpetuates poverty. It is both a root cause and consequence of poverty, burdening endemic countries and contributing to the cycle of poverty. Malaria affects the most isolated groups, such as poor women and children, in the most aggressive manner.

BUT…. malaria can be prevented, diagnosed and treated with a combination of available tools and sustained financing. A comprehensive approach consisting of protective nets, indoor spraying with insecticide, preventive treatment for pregnant women, diagnostic tests, effective drugs, education, research and advocacy is needed to combat malaria."

-Malaria Consortium

1 comment:

  1. Love this post Kels!!! You did an excellent job of communicating how awful malaria is here...and the dire effects!