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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

World Malaria Day 2017

A number of years ago I had a friend who died from malaria and complications of giving birth - to twins. She is not a statistic, but because of her geography she has become one. She has been lumped in with the many that make up the mass. My heart broke.

Today is World Malaria Day.

Yesterday, on the 24th of April the first malaria vaccine was announced. It is amazing, yet the trials don't mean that it will be available to those that need it. There are different types of malaria and that doesn't mean that the virus will not mutate from the vaccine type. there are all these things that I can find wrong with it, even though I think it is a good thing.

This is all great, don't get me wrong... but. I struggle. I read the press release the WHO put out yesterday about the areas that need attention in the fight against malaria. And I read statements such a this:
"Any death from malaria – a preventable and treatable disease – is simply unacceptable," said Dr Pedro Alonso, Director of WHO’s Global Malaria Programme. "Today we are urging countries and partners to accelerate the pace of action, especially in low-income countries with a high malaria burden."
While I agree, this is preventable, there are is like saying all death is unacceptable.

I start to think of the practical side and how there is a girl at the school in sub Sahara Africa, the most prevalent place of malaria, that has malaria but was still attending class. She had to live with it. We made sure she had the medication that she needed for "treatment." It is a part of her life. My heart breaks as I think about how fuzzy her lessons must be from those days, her concentration zapped, failing energy.

I think about my friends, adults, that have had malaria many times in their life. Each time the disease comes it gives them a little more immunity - we hope.

I think about the little boy in the bed with the IV drip, the one where they had trouble finding his dark vein, against his dark skin, in the dark exam room. Little light, little ventilation, scary room. And my heart broke as the alligator tears silently fell down his cheeks. Him switching between thrashing and laying perfectly still. The sweat from the fever induced malaria pilling on his forehead.

Instead of feeling hopeless, I'm going to be excited about the new opportunities and research going on to prevent those alligator tears, aching bodies and grave sites.