Since my return nearly three months ago (wow cannot believe how quickly it has passed) I have received many colorful responses upon telling people I had malaria whilst in Tanzania. In light of this, I wanted to post some helpful/insightful details about malaria for your reading pleasure…and your education. : D
In January, there was an article on http://www.bbc.co.uk about Malaria in which Bill Gates says the vaccine for malaria may just be three years away! Check it out: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8479986.stm
That said, malaria is still the #1 killer of children in Africa.* In fact, every 30 seconds a child dies from it.*
What is Malaria and why is it so deadly?
Malaria is contracted when a mosquito carrying the parasite bites a person and the parasite then enters the blood stream. Unfortunately the symptoms do not tend to show for up to two weeks after the bite and even then the symptoms can be mistaken for other sicknesses. Symptoms include: fevers, chills, vomiting, migraines and other flu-like symptoms.
In my case, I never get fevers so as soon as I realized I was having them and saw all the bug bites on my legs and arms, I knew I needed to get checked. Further, when the doctors told me my blood was abnormal, I was not surprised. Luckily for myself, and the fifteen or so children who also had malaria, the medical clinic, FAME Clinic Ltd. (http://fameafrica.org/) is a 20-minute walk up the road from the orphanage, was generously supplied with the anti-malaria drugs I needed, AND I had the money to pay for the medication (equivalent to less than $3USD I believe). Others are clearly not as lucky, as the nearest clinic could be a day’s travel away, the clinic’s supply may be depleted and of course, the issue of payment is a constant struggle.
Malaria not only causes the aforementioned symptoms, but also wreaks other havoc in children’s little bodies.
“Many children who survive an episode of severe malaria may suffer from learning impairments or brain damage. Pregnant women and their unborn children are also particularly vulnerable to malaria, which, during pregnancy, is a major cause of mortality, low birth weight and maternal anemia. And while we know malaria is preventable, the lack of resources, coupled with a climate very hospitable to the deadliest strain of malaria, has made the disease a leading cause of death among African children.” (http://www.malarianomore.org/malaria)
Pregnant woman are especially susceptible and at risk because the unborn child can easily contract malaria. Upon this, such results include: the mother becoming anemic, premature birth or mortality.
Types of Malaria (from http://www.netsforlifeafrica.org/malaria/disease-transmission)
There are four species of parasites that cause malaria in humans.
The most common species in Africa is the Plasmodium falciparum species, which causes the most virulent and potentially deadly form of the disease.
The Plasmodium vivax species causes a recurrent, episodic but not life-threatening form of malaria.
The other two species that cause malaria are Plasmodium ovale and Plasmodium malariae.
One of the simplest ways to sidestep contracting malaria is to sleep under an insecticide-sprayed bed net. You may recall the United Nations Foundation’s Malaria Day Game through Nothing But Nets, that appeared in 2008. Through playing the game, you could ensure bed nets were distributed to areas where they were dearly needed. Click here to play the game and get involved with helping to save lives:
In February, the district of Karatu provided free bed nets for each bed at Shalom—very generous and much-needed gifts!! Bed nets cost roughly $8-10USD. If you would like to donate monies to purchase a bed net, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org OR donate directly via paypal: http://www.journeysofsolutions.org/?q=node/23.
Malaria No More: www.malarianomore.org
Nothing But Nets: http://www.nothingbutnets.net/malaria-kills/
Nets For Life: A Partnership for Malaria prevention in Africa: http://www.netsforlifeafrica.org/