Have you ever had malaria? In Melissa’s first stint in Zambia (2004-05), she had it 3 times. I, on the other hand, had never been victim. That was, until Monday.
It started with a mild ache all over, as though I’d spent the whole of the previous day working out – not that I know what that’s like, but I have an active imagination (if not an active body). It got gradually worse over the course of the day and so, by late afternoon, Melissa was driving me to the clinic to have a Malaria test and, shortly afterwards, followed diagnosis and medication. It got worse before it got better – fever, shaking, sweating from the unlikeliest of places, splitting headache. I was bed ridden for a couple of days (yes, including New Years) and then slowly progressed to shuffling around the house like a geriatric ice-skater before needing to lie down again. Not fun. I’m over the worst of it this evening, I think, but the aches and sweats come back in waves every so often.
In 2012. malaria caused an estimated 627 000* deaths, most of those deaths occurred among children living in Africa where, the World Health Organisation have calculated, a child dies every minute from malaria.
If I’m honest with you, finding out that statistic today, made me cry. And feel incredibly incredibly guilty. I know that may sound illogical and maybe guilt isn’t the right word, maybe burdened is more accurate… not because I caught it early, but burdened because I was able to be driven a relatively short journey to seek good medical care and could afford to pay for the test and then the medicine that followed the diagnosis. All luxuries that many here don’t have. I hope you can see my point.
Beyond Ourselves is committed to seeing that all the families at our schools have a mosquito net. It’s not 100% fool proof, but using a net significantly reduces the risk of infection of the parasite that causes malaria. I know it’s just been Christmas and the January Sales can also be an expensive time of year, but for £10/$18CDN you could help save a family from malaria. Surely that’s a bargain.
Sorry, for laying some of this ‘burden’ at your door but I would love it (love it) if my 3 days in bed amounted to more than a pile of sweaty bed linen and just another ‘life experience’.
*WHO – statistic with an uncertainty range of 473 000 to 789 000