What it’s like to have malaria

This month, aid groups and non-governmental organizations such as the Peace Corps, USAID and Malaria No More asked their volunteers and employees to blog about malaria in observance of World Malaria Day. Many chose to write about their own personal experiences being infected with malaria, or watching someone else who was.  Their posts provide a fascinating — and sometimes horrific — look at the disease that kills about 600,000 people each year, most of them young children in Africa. Below are some excerpts from malaria-related blogs posted on the Internet this week.

She told me that (four-year-old Tinho) was in the hospital with malaria and that she was afraid he wasn’t going to make it. The next week was filled with anxiety-laden nights worrying whether he was going to pull through. My days were spent going through the motions, but always with a knot in my stomach fearing that I would return home to bad news. But then one evening I was sitting on my porch reading and his mother walked up carrying Tinho. He had just left the hospital and was thin and frail. He looked so much smaller than I remembered him- but he was alive!

Jordan Rief, Peace Corps volunteer, “Every Child Deserves a 5th Birthday

In my experience malaria starts with a headache which rapidly gets worse. Then as your fever goes up you start to be aware of your bones in a way that you normally do not experience. They ache. You alternate from freezing cold to hot as your body shakes. Even with treatment it can take weeks for you to start getting your energy back.

— Family of Cory, Kris, Eli and Anna, Global Partners Missionaries, “Did you think about malaria today?

When I remember (my daughter) Melody, I shed tears of bitterness wondering where we failed her. I soliloquize, imagining I should have ignored the ignorant doctor and crushed bitter chloroquin and administered it. But she is long gone and we are focusing on the disease today.

— Michael Arunga, World Vision, “Remembering Melody on World Malaria Day

I spent two years learning Wolof, getting to know the 300 people who chose to share their village with me, and found out more and more about malaria and the role it plays in the lives of the Senegalese people.

Together, the community taught me what it was, what the members valued, what they wanted from their lives and from each other. They taught me how they saw malaria, what they thought of this threat to their lives, what they knew to do when they got sick. They helped me understand why they couldn’t pay the $4 to buy a mosquito net, even though they knew that sleeping underneath one every night would protect them from being bitten by the mosquitos that spread malaria. They talked about being too scared to go to the health post to seek treatment for a suspected case of malaria when their infant sons and daughters became ill, even though they knew the disease was so dangerous. They surprised me with their knowledge and resources, and saddened me with their matter-of-fact statements about their perceptions of the limitations on their lives.

— Jessie Seiler, Peace Corps volunteer, “Fighting Malaria, One RDT at A Time

3 Responses to “What it’s like to have malaria”

  1. 1 Ghafla!Guy April 30, 2012 at 10:39 am

    I’m of the idea that mosquitoe nets should be less cheaper say about $1 or $2 at most. Back in Kenya if you are not an expectant woman expect to buy one at $6! This is normally out of reach for the common African.

  2. 2 AFRICOM April 30, 2012 at 8:25 am

    Thanks for that insight, Patrick.

  3. 3 Patrick Sullivan April 27, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    Boiling the leaves and shoots of bamboo, is a sure prevention for Malaria – In the same way that eating citrus fruits, or drinking the juice made from citrus fruits is a sure prevention for scurvy.

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