Three weeks ago I drafted, but didn’t finish or post, this:
I first contracted malaria back in 1986 when I spent the summer (with Teen Missions) in the Arkosame area of Papua New Guinea (PNG). I had to take high doses of chlorquine for days before I started to feel significantly better.
I got malaria again this summer in Zambia. The incubation period for p. vivax is about 10 days. I came down with the symptoms on day 12. (I don’t know for sure I had p. vivax, there ARE other strains). Mosquitos love me. Even though there were very few mosquitos out as it was winter, I guess the right one found me shortly after my arrival. I’m told that once you’ve had malaria, you get it easier than someone who has not had it. I was the only person on my team (on any of the three Zambia teams actually) that got it. However, many of the rescue unit facilitators showed up at the base in Ndola over the next few weeks also sick with malaria.
I hadn’t been feeling myself all day, but didn’t think much of it. I was really tired, but why shouldn’t I have been? It only made sense given my schedule and my general lack of sleep. But as I collapsed onto my air mattress in my tent before the sun was down and laid there with my feet hanging out of my tent, boots still on, feeling like I was paralyzed I was so weak, I knew something was truly amiss. I fell asleep there, feet hanging out and all, and woke up about an hour later shivering uncontrollably. I crawled the rest of the way into the tent and slid into my sleeping bag, boots still on. I curled up in a ball, and fell asleep again. The shivering woke me again shortly thereafter. Malaria. I just knew it. But I didn’t want to say it out loud. I didn’t have time to have malaria. I had Christina take my temperature, and it was just over 96, but my pulse was in the hundreds, so I knew I was cooking up a big fever. She got Abner, and he took one look at me and said he thought I had malaria. That was a consensus of two, both of us having had malaria before, and having seen the face of malaria before.
I cried. I didn’t want to have malaria. I didn’t even have any malaria meds with me. I didn’t want to take those meds for a week before I felt better. I had heard of a medication before I left that worked really quickly, but it was like 200 bucks, so I didn’t even consider buying any.
The medication is call Arinate. And Abner had some. He started me on my loading dose. I would only have to take it once a day for the next four days, a total of six pills. And it was going to cost me less than ten bucks.
Wait a minute. Ten bucks? Are you kidding me?
After sleeping for two days, I felt pretty well, except I was really tired and had very little energy. That ten dollar medicine was like a miracle. And I’m thinking…..people die here (in Africa) from malaria. By the tens and hundreds of thousands. How can that be? A person dies because they can’t afford a ten dollar course of medicine??? (And it’s even cheaper in other areas in Africa and the world!)
That’s so not right.
How many more people die from malaria each year than die from AIDS? Malaria is completely treatable with a ten dollar dose of medication. You don’t have to take expensive drugs every day for the rest of your life to stay alive if you get malaria. What is the excuse for people dying from malaria??? If everyone in America donated ten dollars a year for this drug that would be 300,000,000 cases of malaria that could be treated and cured. Did you catch that??? THREE HUNDRED MILLION CASES. Why aren’t we doing something to stop people from dying from malaria? People dying from malaria is just plain stupid and a waste. And there’s no behavioral component to getting malaria. You can’t avoid all the mosquitos that are out to get you. There’s no good explanation for this and shame on us for letting it go on as it does, day after day, week after week, and month after month.
I used to be irked because we (the west) didn’t spray for mosquitos with cheap and effective DDT because it gave environmentalists a rash, and it’s better to let Africans die from a completely treatable disease than it is to put evil DDT into the air and soil (uh, yeah, that was sarcasm). Be that as it may, though it still bothers me, I am now calling for the west to stop letting people die for lack of ten dollars. I will be working on a solution to the problem that is cheap to institute and effiecient to put into action. I have absolutely no idea how this is going to work or how it will look, but how can I just do nothing? I still believe that we need to haul DDT out of mothballs and start the widespread use of it again. The widespread use of DDT in the past resulted in the widespread eradication of malaria! Stand up to environmentalists who think that people aren’t worth saving and let’s get to spraying. And until we can get mosquitos under control, let’s cough up ten bucks and save someone who already has malaria.
Fast forward to today:
Today I found a blog called “Sociolingo“. Though I have not yet had the opportunity to read in depth what sociolingo has to say on topics in genenral, this site deals with issues in Africa from the perspective of one who lives there. I don’t know if sociolingo is male or female, I don’t even know if sociolingo is white or black or brown. But I look forward to reading more. I have added sociolingo to my blogroll as a site that perhaps can help us all expand our world view and perhaps encourage us to start to adjust our thinking about what we should place on the top of our issues of importance list. When you read about what the average African deals with daily, perhaps the cost of gasoline here in the states will become a little bit less of a hot issue with us. Perhaps. In today’s posting by sociolingo I learned that the WHO (World Health Organization) has FINALLY lifted the ban on the use of DDT. Finally. And thank God. I am in the process of investigating just what the plan is for instituting the spraying, but just the lifting of the ban is great news. I know that “eco-activists” aren’t through with their fight, so it is with deep concern that I anticipate their next moves. Here are a couple of links for you to peruse:
I still don’t know how to solve the malaria problem. I think that the problem of malaria is symptomatic of a greater problem. The problem of indifference to the plight of others. As a human being I am appalled by our apparent lack of interest in people who are suffering. As a Christian I am ashamed that I don’t do more. I look at the depth, and height, and breadth of the physical and the spiritual suffering of so many people in the world, and I am nearly paralyzed. It’s bad enough that people needlessly die from preventable and treatable diseases. How much more tragic is it that they do so without the knowledge of a loving savior? And, while I sort of stand on my internet soapbox here, I am sitting on my comfy couch in the middle of my cushy life in America.
How do we affect any real change in this world, in the suffering of millions? The problem is so complex. It’s geographical, it’s political, it’s spiritual, it’s sociological. How do we effectively cross all these barriers to meet the immediate needs of a hurting world?