When we go to Uganda, we have to take anti-malaria pills every day since our bodies have not built up an immunity to malaria. The pills can be miserable, causing all sorts of side-effects, all of which I will always say are worth to keep from getting the dreaded illness. On our trip last August, our team was sitting at dinner. We were laughing and having a good time. My friend Ashley had just taken her malaria pill when she saw a mosquito and shouted out for all to hear, "BITE ME! I JUST TOOK MY MALARIA PILLS!"
Malaria is a parasite transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. The parasites multiply in the liver and infect the red blood cells. Symptoms include high fever, terrible throbbing headaches, and vomiting. Without treatment, it will quickly become life-threatening by disrupting blood supply to vital organs. About half of the world's population live in areas at risk for contracting the illness, but the majority of deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa.
It's a hot, sticky evening. She sits near her mother who is cooking rice over an open fire. She hears a buzzing, but sees nothing. Then she feels it. A quick prick makes her jump. Her reflexes spring into action and smack at her leg, but it's too late. In that split second, malaria has staked its claim on another precious child, and over the next few days, that child's body will have to fight for its life.
Every 30 seconds, an African child succumbs to malaria.
Every one of those deaths could be prevented.
Malaria is entirely treatable, and completely avoidable. Medications can treat the infected person, bringing them back to full health. Nets treated with insecticide can protect an entire family from the bite that brings malaria.
(Click here for a video about malaria)
Today, April 25, is World Malaria Day. If you'd like to find out more about what you can do to in the fight against malaria, click here.
It's time to tell malaria to bite me.