Category Archives: Malaria/AIDS

#192

Calling someone a hero is such an overused thing anymore.  Doing so has nearly lost its’ power, at least for me, at least in my country.  Too often, we throw the word around like it is nothing.  When I was young, a hero was someone who rushed in without thought of their own personal safety, just on instinct or habit or natural inclination; to save the life of another, like Superman stopping an oncoming train from hitting a car of children stalled on the tracks.  Or it meant it was someone who would make the life of another something so much better than it would have been if not for that heroism.  True heroism can be a single act, or it can be a lifetime of action.  Heroes don’t mean to be humbling, but they are.  They make us look at ourselves and wonder if we could ever be heroic like that.  I don’t think that Harry and Echo VanderWal would be all that comfortable being called heroes.    But if they are not, then who is?

If you ever find yourself talking about how something needs to be done about this or that problem in the world, how do you respond to yourself?  Do you just talk and make demands of others, or do you actually DO something?  Or perhaps you are simply struck with analysis paralysis finding that despite wanting to help and wanting to do something VERY good, you do not HOW?  Well, here’s a how you can help some real heroes do their heroic work.  Support the work of the the VanderWals and the Swazi people.  Give to The Luke Commission and help their work not just to save one life at a time, but to save an entire country from the ravages of HIV/AIDS and from REAL lack of access to even the most basic of healthcare services.

The VanderWals run hundreds of clinics, year after year, reaching into every nook and cranny of Swaziland.  They treat many hundreds of patients at each of these clinics.  They facilitate ongoing care year after year for those with chronic medical problems.  They bring health and they bring hope.  They help failing eyes see again.  They bring mobility to those who otherwise would be stuck in their simple homesteads, unable to manage the rocky streets without durable carts.  They screen for and treat hypertension, diabetes, and tuberculosis.  They treat everyone for intestinal parasites which rob people of whatever meager nutrition they are able to obtain.  They are performing hundreds of adult male circumcision, a procedure that is proven to reduce the risk of spreading AIDS.  At each of these clinics they stay well into the dark seeing every single person who comes for help, no matter how late into the dark it gets.  No one, not one person, is turned away.  Never.  Harry and Echo see patients and operate in the darkest of night until every last patient is cared for.

Trust in Swaziland is hard to come by.  The Swazis trust the VanderWals because the VanderWals have proven themselves trustworthy.  Because of that, the Swazi people get tested, get treated, get life.  No one has been successful like they have been in helping to turn the tide for these beautiful people.

I’ve seen them in action.  It is humbling.

YOU can help #192.  You can help hundreds of #192s.  Your money could simply not be more well spent.

On this World AIDS Day 2012, do something tangible to make a difference.

DONATE NOW, DONATE HERE.

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“You Ver” What???

I ver mectin!

If you are, like I am, blessed/lucky enough to live in a place where the thought of contracting river blindness, malaria, and even head lice, are things that you think about…. ummmmm…like pretty much never…take a moment and be thankful about that.

With the eradication of disease comes prosperity.  Did you know we had malaria (a mosquito borne illness) here in the United States in the South until it was eliminated in 1947?  A million people around the world die from malaria each year.

Did you know that we had major outbreaks of Yellow Fever (also a mosquito borne illness) here in the States until 1905?  Due to the highly infectious nature of this illness (despite attempts at reaching 90% vaccination rates in endemic regions around the world) there are still 30,000 deaths (and 500,000 cases of it) a year.

Did you know that the last major outbreak of cholera (spread through contaminated food and water) to hit the United States occurred in 1911?  Since cholera was introduced to Haiti by an aid worker after the massive earthquake of 2010, there have been about 350,000 cases of cholera and over 14,000 deaths.

How about diphtheria?  Diphtheria is a respiratory illness that has been largely eradicated in the United States (only a rare few cases in the past decade).  Did you know that the tetanus shot you get for skin injuries is usually a Td?  You probably know the “T” stands for tetanus, but did you know that the “d” stands for diphtheria?  Since the diphtheria vaccine was introduced in 1920 and high levels of vaccination rates were obtained, diphtheria for U.S. citizens became a thing of the past.  Not so for the people of Russia in the 1990’s and more recently the people of Haiti and the Dominican Republic where large epidemics have occured.  And speaking of tetanus, there are hundreds of thousands of deaths annually worldwide from tetanus.  Only 50-100 of those many deaths occur in the United States.  Those cases are nearly always in unvaccinated/undervaccinated individuals.

These diseases are shackles to poor and developing nations and is one of the causes of keeping them impoverished, uneducated, and with seriously limited opportunities .

Because our medical system and our society in general is not constantly plagued by these expensive (both from the medical standpoint as well as the economic standpoint) diseases, we are free to grow and expand our economy and to put finances towards treating things that in developing nations are often not addressed at ALL!  Like cancer, depression, osteoporosis, heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, etc (etcetcetcetcetc.)  There are diseases of aging in our country that are not even SEEN in other countries due to short life expectancy.  For 2011 the life expectancy for a Swazi is projected to be 31.88 years.  No, that is not a typo.  This is in large part due to a completely preventable and most often untreated, disease, HIV.

People in the United States actually have access to a drug called Latisse…this drug treats the condition of “inadequate, or not enough lashes”.  That’s eyelashes, people.  We have a drug for growing EYELASHES.  Now, part of me is absolutely appalled by such an apparent lack of perspective by the American public.  Another part of me is thrilled that we have the time, resources, and overall health to be able to treat such a thing as a problem!  I don’t think I’ll ever meet someone from Swaziland, or Zambia, or Ethiopia (etc.) who ever THINKS about having inadequate lashes.  But I digress.  Back to real diseases…

There’s all manner of diarrheal illness, and pneumonias, and African Sleeping Sickness, and polio, and meningococcal meningitis, and bubonic plague, and tuberculosis, and hepatitis, and typhoid, and ebola, and tetanus, and lymphatic filariasis andandandandandand.  I could go on!  Many of these diseases fully, or almost fully, preventable through education, simple medications, and vaccinations.

On a personal level, I have friends who suffer from chronic malaria.  People with chronic malaria become symptomatic a few times a year.  When sick they cannot work, and it drains their already meager finances when medications and sometimes hospitalization are needed.  It is hard to get ahead in life when one single disease has such negative effects.  Imagine facing ALL of these diseases (and so many more) on a regular basis?  It’s nearly unthinkable for us in developed countries.

So, you might be asking, what does all of this have to do with ivermectin??

And what do river blindness, malaria, and head lice have to do with each other?

Well, just one of the feared diseases of West and Central Africa is river blindness.  River blindness is the result of a chronic parasitic multi-system inflammatory disease caused by a worm that inhabits fast flowing rivers.  Black flies breed in these rivers and are the vector for this worm.  As rivers are often the primary water source in this part of the world, thus the potential for becoming infected.  Around 35 million people are currently infected with river blindness, and roughly 300,000 of them are already irreversibly blind. Approximately 140 million people in Africa are at risk of infection.  Being blind in most parts of Africa is nothing like being blind in the developed world.  As so many of those at risk for river blindness are from agricultural societies, being blind (or even visually impaired) can leave a person incapable of farming and providing for his/her family.  It’s hard enough to get any sort of education in these countries…imagine trying to get an education in most of Africa if you are blind!

Ivermectin is one of a family of drugs called “anthelmintics or antihelminthics”.  They treat worm infestations in people.  Worms are an extremely common finding in many populations in Africa (and around the world).  Among its other uses, ivermectin can be used off label to treat lice and scabies.  Taking a single dose provides 24/7 insecticidal protection.  The lice are killed when they bite and consume the now insecticidal blood of its victim.  Invermectin is also used in Africa to treat the worm infestation that leads to river blindness and filariasis.  In 2008 and 2009, a team of researchers to Senegal found that in communities where ivermectin was being used, the numbers of malaria carrying mosquitoes dropped off dramatically two weeks following treatment!  In similar communities where ivermectin was not being used, numbers of these mosquitoes had doubled in the same time frame.  To me, this is a fascinatingly unexpected and positive outcome to the use of ivermectin!!!!  To treat river blindness, an individual takes a single dose of the drug annually for 10-15 years.

I have this scenario in my head where communities would be tested and treated en masse for malaria infection, given insecticide treated mosquito nets, and maybe vector spraying would be done to eliminate mosquitoes.  To me, it seems, that with an aggressive multi-directional assault like this on malaria, malaria could be DRAMATICALLY reduced and maybe even eradicated.  With the addition of ivermectin into the mix, it might be an even more effective war.  Imagine…attacking malaria, river blindness, lymphatic filariasis, scabies, lice and other worm infestations all at the same time!

If “the west” could coordinate all of its currently disparate efforts and wage a full out assault on malaria, I think we could see a huge victory.  It would take massive coordination of services and some pretty specific timing, but if one generation of mosquitoes and malaria cycles could be disrupted, imagine the effect it could have on people who live with these plagues on a regular basis.

Why can’t we do this???  Is it possible?  How much DDT would be needed to spray all of the homes in affected areas of Africa?  How many mosquito nets would be needed?  How many doses of ivermectin would be required?  And how many people on the ground would be needed to make such an assault possible?  How many cycles of treatment and spraying would be needed?  And perhaps the biggest quetion is would the governments of these countries even be willing to allow such a program??????

We have put men on the moon.  We have built impossible dams and bridges.  We built the Panama Canal.  We have eradicated smallpox.  Computer power that used to occupy a room now occupies nearly microscopic space.  Why can we not do something spectacular like free the world from the prison of malaria?

There are organizations doing great things to combat malaria and bring hope to a sick and dying world.  There are a multitude of NGOs, plus faith- and government-based operations involved in the fight.  What if they all worked together, in concert to pool resources, work towards a common goal, reduce duplicated efforts, reduced waste, and increased  efficiency?  What an amazing thing that would be!

Is it just a dream?


Ruination

Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.

Isaiah 6:5

One of my prayers for my team in the months prior to our going to South Africa and Swaziland, was that they would meet God in a way that they never had before and that they would be “undone” by their experience.  That *I* would be undone by mine.  I prayed that we all would be “ruined” forever for the Lord.  That we would never again be able to look at our own lives and at the world in the way that we had before.

My prayers were more than answered.

How can you look into the face of a woman who has lost most of her family members to AIDS and yet beams with the joy of the Lord and not be ruined?  How can you hold a child whose face shines like a new penny who, despite, at only four years of age, is the head of his household and is the primary caregiver for a 2 year old sister, and not be ruined?  How can you walk amongst hundreds of people, many who walked miles and miles and may have quietly waited all day to see the doctor at  a mobile medical clinic at a school to get “tablets” for various maladies that we can’t even imagine suffering from in the west, and not be ruined?

How can *I* hear “my kids” talk of the things they are saw, and smelled, and were immersed in,  and then listening to them talk about how they see God in all of it, and not be ruined?

As we drove away for the last time from all the kids we spent our time with, I listened to the quiet sobs of my American children who have been gloriously ruined, and I was undone, for I saw the King, the Lord my God, in that moment, too.

Woe are we.

Woe is me.

For we have been undone.


Immun-aiyaiyai-zations

This year I needed to update my immunizations for my trip to Malawi and Ethiopia.  My Polio, Typhoid, and Yellow Fever are outdated and I’ve never had Hepatitis A.

Today I met with Becky at Passport Health to discuss just what my travel needs were going to be.

The final list?  Here you go!

  1. Hepatitis A injection
  2. Polio injection
  3. Yellow Fever injection
  4. Oral Typhoid series

Still need to get:

  1. Tetanus booster
  2. TB skin test (last one was over a year ago, will be able to procur this at work)

Declined:

  1. Influenza vaccine (I never get this)
  2. Meningococcal meningitis vaccine (I’ve been exposed so many times to this I must have some sort of immunity)
  3. MMR (measles, mumps, rubella).  I have now had this vaccine three times and while I have converted on my mumps and rubella, my titers continually come back negligible for measles, so I’m figuring no additional attempts will work either.

Definitely don’t need for this trip:

  1. Japanese Encephalitis vaccine  🙂  TRUE! 

We also discussed malaria and dengue fever.  Since it is winter, the chances of getting these diseases are lower as the mosquitos are fewer and farther between, but, as history has proven to me, I can get malaria from that one mosquito.  The malaria carrying mosquito gets you at night, the dengue carrying mosquito gets you during the day.  When in Zambia I didn’t take malaria meds nor did I use insect repellent.  I will use repellent this year.  I’m still thinking about my options for meds.  The cheap option is doxycycline, but that often leads to an unpleasant other kind of infection.  The other “cheaper” options have given me night terrors and generally creepy feelings which make them very undesireable to take again.  The best option is MUY expensive.  Almost $9.00 a pill!  AND I’d need 60 pills.  I don’t even want to do the math on that.  We’ll just have to see!  For sure I buy some Arinate when I get to Africa.  I want that on hand whether or not I’m pre-treating.  That’s a miracle drug for malaria and I don’t want to be without it.

Then there’s avian (bird) flu and cholera.  Since I’m in control of food preparation and water sanitization, I’m pretty sure we’ll be able to avoid getting either of these.  Just gotta remember to keep “my kids” away from any chickens and not serve any eggs that aren’t fully cooked!

Lastly, I picked up a prescription for Cipro.  I can take that for traveler’s diarrhea or an upper respiratory infection.

I got the three injections today.  Praying they don’t make me sick.  The last time I got the Yellow Fever one I was sick (gastro stuff and fever) for days and my arm was useless and excrutiatingly painful to the touch for over a week.  That was years ago.  Maybe this time it won’t be so bad.  I’ll wait to see if these round of shots makes me sick before I tackle the week-long regimen of oral Typhoid vaccination.  That one can cause pretty good gastro side effects and I don’t want to pile that on anything else I might be feeling!

AND we (Becky-also a nurse-and I) talked about my working there in the future!  Just to fill-in for her, nothing major.  She took my info and seemed very delighted at the possibility of having someone who could help out there in a pinch, or for vacations, etc.!

This is the first time I have used a traveler’s health clinic.  Very convenient, very easy.  Always before I have had to call around and find this place or that place who could accommodate my needs.  When I showed up at Passport Health, Becky had already prepared a full packet of very useful information and recommendations.  Live in Colorado?  Ever need to discuss travel needs and get shots and scripts?  Consider Passport Health.  I guess it’s another Unpaid Service Endorsement from me!  🙂  It’s a pay up front business, so I need to look into filing a claim with my insurance to see what they might pick up.  Never done that before.  New skill to learn!  🙂

I haven’t been really great at posting lately, but if you don’t hear from me for awhile, you’ll know why!  (Because I’m curled up sick in my bed not far from a bathroom!)

Now, as I am expecting company in a few days, I’m off to clean my house, just in case I’m not feeling up to it later!

02/18/09, an update:

I should have updated this post long ago!  I had absolutely no side effects from any of my shots, not even any arm soreness.  I ended up choosing doxycycline for my malaria prophylaxis and was diligent about taking it as directed and diligent with my bug repellent.  Despite being chewed alive at dusk, I did not contract malaria (which was a great relief, having had it twice before).  I had only some minor gastro-intestinal side effects from the oral typhoid, but nothing hardly even to mention.  It could have even been coincidental.  The next time I travel to a place where meningitis is recommended, I will probably get that vaccine.  And, if it is available, I am considering getting the rabies series as well.  But as of this update, rabies is only available post-exposure as there is a shortage of it.

Bye for now!  And remember, traveling smart includes getting your vaccines!


“Pathos” – Photo Friday

 pa·thos  (pā’thŏs’, -thôs’) n.  

  1. A quality, as of an experience or a work of art, that arouses feelings of pity, sympathy, tenderness, or sorrow.
  2. The feeling, as of sympathy or pity, so aroused.

There’s is nothing quite like the visual art of photography to evoke our emotions.  I love that it’s an art form that is available to everyone.  Most cannot paint, most cannot sculpt, most cannot draw, but everyone can point and shoot.  With the advent of the nearly idiot-proof digital camera, even the most unskilled eye and wavering finger can inexpensively capture wonderful images.

I love taking pictures.  My primary camera is a Nikon Coolpix S4.  The lens swivels 170 degrees allowing me to easily get shots from all kinds of angles.  Often my best pictures are ones that I did nothing to set up.   

I took this picture during the summer of 2006.  It was taken in Kansoka, Zambia.  This was “foot washing day”.  We had hundreds of orphans come to get loved on/hugged on/held/played with, as well as to get, in most cases, their very first pair of shoes and socks.  This particular little girl had captured my attention throughout the day.  I don’t know her story.  I don’t even know her name.  I never learned the stories of most of the thousand or so orphans we met that summer.  But most of them shared at least part of the same story.  In Zambia alone, more than three quarters of a million of them have been left alone in the world having lost one or both of their parents to malaria or AIDS.  The “lucky” ones had older siblings to care for them.  One 10-year-old we met was the oldest left in his household.  He had become the man of his family and was now responsible for the care of his four little brothers and sisters.

Life has dealt this little princess a very hard blow.  Life in sub-saharan Africa is difficult for most in the best of circumstances.  To be a child, perhaps even a baby, and to be left parentless, makes an already difficult circumstance a precarious one.  And yet many of their young faces still shine.  They laugh and play just like children do.  They are full of hope.

I look at her face and my heart is both completely broken, and yet paradoxically full. 

Pathos.  

(Click HERE for links to more Photo Friday submissions.  And please consider playing along with us!  We’re only three, we’d like to be more!)

Next week’s Photo Friday topic is “Joy!”.

… 


Zambian Orphan Rescue Units, An Update

Teen Missions recently updated their website with recent reports (this month) from a number of the ORUs (Orphan Rescue Units) in Zambia.  Please take the time to read about all the good things that are happening at these units.  And you can read about some of the sad things, too.

Link to the ORU updates

And the Funda unit?  Well, (unless something has changed that I don’t know about) that’s “Connie’s Heart“. 

Link to the Funda Unit update 

MY heart is overwhelmed to read about children (and grown-ups, too) a world away whose lives are being changed because of Connie.  I will find out much more when I arrive at Boot Camp and talk to the Petersons who run the Zambian ministry.  It sounds like perhaps the Foot Washing team might be visiting “Connie’s Heart” this summer!  I can hardly wait to hear first hand what is happening there!


Some Good News on the Malaria Front

Thanks Joanne H. (of CO, not IL) for this story link:

New Malaria Drug for Kids…..”

I hope to hear good things about this drug in the future.  Please note that the article states that this new drug is not patented and the formulation will be available to anyone who wants to produce it.  This could be a huge breakthrough in reducing malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa.  If it is, I hope that there’s a Nobel Prize in medicine in it for someone.


The $10 Solution

As it is a very cold and inhospitable day outside, today I decided to catch up on reading my growing pile of periodicals.  I am on my fourth issue of TIME Magazine.  Much to my delight, I came across an article which deals with yet another inexpensive way to curb the ravages of malaria in Africa.  Read the full article (it’s short).

TIME’s “The $10 Solution

If you are not currently doing anything to help this epidemic, please consider forgoing a few Starbuck’s coffees and making a donation to one of the organizations listed in the article. 


Seeing “RED”

Back in 1983 I purchased a vinyl record album.  I didn’t even own a record player at the time.  There was this band whose music I’d heard on the alternative rock radio station (KROQ) out of Pasadena (CA) and I couldn’t wait until the record hit the stands in the United States.  The band was from Ireland, and their name was U2.  So, the minute that record showed up at Tower Records, I had to have it.  The album was called WAR, and to this day it is one of my favorites, though I now own it as a CD!

And now, I am an even bigger fan.  I recently learned that Bono and I share a passion…Africa, “stupid” poverty (the kind of poverty that finds 1 billion people trying to live off of a dollar a day, not the average poverty that you find in first world countries like our own), and people dying from diseases that are treatable (like malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV, to name a few).  My sister, Diane, went to a leadership seminar at our church while I was in Africa.  Bono was one of the speakers.  I hear that he was inspiring.  I’m sorry I missed it.  I was impressed to learn that he reaches out in all directions with his “message”, including to the church.

Yesterday I watched the Oprah show.  I don’t generally watch Oprah, but when I heard that Bono was to be on and that the focus was to be Africa, I did.  Today he launched the RED campaign.

RED is different from most charities.  Different retailers like the Gap, Motorola, Apple, and Converse are donating real money, not piddly cents here and there, to fighting AIDS, malaria, and “stupid” poverty in Africa.  The Gap is donating 50% of the profits from “RED”.  Fifty percent.  That’s REAL money.  And they have most of their clothing for the RED line made in Lesotho which gives a whole bunch of people good jobs and enables them to buy their own medicines.  So the Gap is hitting the issues from the inside and the outside.  The money is donated to the Global Fund.  The Global Fund is an international grant organization.  Take the time to check out their website (link below).

You probably shop at the Gap anyway.  You probably wear tennis shoes.  You probably have a cell phone and an iPod.  If you are not a person who gives to charity, then do THIS:

If you’re shopping, and all things are equal, buy RED.  It can only help.

Kudos to Bono, for a fresh and creative approach to standing in the gap…(pun intended).

Links:

CBS News story

The RED site

The Global Fund

Bono’s Charity


“Marathon Fights Malaria”

While catching up on my reading (I have a pile of magazines and catalogues that is about a foot tall to go through) I came across a TIME magazine article about the successes that the oil company, Marathon, is having in combating malaria in Africa.  Please take the time to read it.  And I’ll bet you didn’t know that the president (that would OUR president) has a “malaria initiative” that he announced in 2005.  You should read that, too.  I don’t know how a 1.2 billion dollar initiative on something that has been on my heart for decades escaped me, but it did!

Here are links!

TIME article

The President’s Malaria Initiative

Way to go Marathon.  It’s a good start, Mr. Bush.  Coupled with the lift on the DDT ban, perhaps we can make some progress on real reduction in malaria related deaths in Africa and the world.


Malaria – Plasmodium Vivax

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.  

Read About Malaria 

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:

Read About DDT

Fox News Story on Lifting of Ban

Sociolingo’s Malaria Post

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? 

Any ideas??


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