miniature mass murderer

10 10 2011


I seriously did not realise how seriously I should have.  A recent Time magazine ran an excellent article on the topic.  And now I know just that much more.  And it is really close up and personal now. 

Sarah-the-superb, the lady who helps me with a million tasks, was very consumed last week with looking after her baby daughter who has malaria.  The concern was all the more heavy for this mother: Sarah lost a 3 year old some to this parasite some years ago.  A second child fell ill at the end of last week and we heard this morning that Sarah has malaria too. 


There are times when we hear of several cases all at once – when the rains have come and the puddles around rice paddies and on road sides gather mosquitos. It was on reading the Time article that I realized just how severe malaria is in Uganda:  Apac in northern Uganda is considered the ‘most malarious town on earth’, and along with Kenya, South Sudan, Nigeria, Tanzania, DRC and Ethiopia, Uganda is one of the 7 most malarious countries in the world. 

It boggles the mind that a tiny little insect can wreak havoc.  If one person in the family is ill then there are several visits to doctors, medicines needed and these costs could easily run to half or even 2/3 of an average worker’s salary.  Days of work can be missed, money can be lost in that too.

Then, if the patient dies, there are huge expenses for burial.  The loss of that person’s income could set a family back severely. 

We are talking of a disease that robs hundreds of thousands of lives a year.  It is disastrous. (Kind of puts a broken finger nail into perspective, huh?) 

Several nations are doing something that works – places like Botswana, Swaziland and Madagascar have cut their infections by 50% or more.  Intensive DDT spraying programmes and extensive use of nets over large areas can help over large areas.

Deon and I are SO cautious: we spend very little time outdoors in the evenings, and if we do we cover up with long sleeves and lots of insect repellent.  We have mosquito netting covering our windows, and spray every buzzing insect we see.  When the electricity is working we often run one of the awful purple zapper machines.  We don’t sleep with a mozzie net over our bed at home, but have one at the ready if the need arises. (We are blessed to have avoided this parasite so far… we hope to keep it that way.)

But the mmoznetsajority of people spend a lot of time milling outside in the evenings, making food, visiting others and they do not use repellents.  And the cost of a mosquito net per family is far beyond the financial capability of most families. Time magazine states that about 21 million nets are still needed in Uganda alone. 



My heart has been so heavy all day.  The reality of how unpleasant this little critter can be are right up close.  But having some understanding of how badly this parasite impacts on entire nations’ economies, and how tragic it is to lose even one little life… but not knowing how we can impact on this massive problem with very limited resources overwhelms me.

If you can support Kingsley Holgate or others who are making a difference with mosquito net programmes, please do.  And please pray for Sarah and her family, that all will recover miraculously and that they will be spared more suffering in the future.




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