In May of this year I journeyed to the small Sub-saharan African country of Zambia as part of a relief and global outreach team to see first hand the extreme poverty and disease that is common in this land. As part of the journey, I set out to help document and tell the story of the injustices that the large majority of the people face every day. One of these issues is the crisis of Malaria. Malaria is a disease of the blood that is caused by a parasite called Plasmodium, which is transmitted from person to person by a particular type of mosquito, the Anopheles Mosquito.
Once the parasite enters the human body it travels to the liver where it multiplies approximately 10,000 times, and approximately two weeks after entering the body, the parasite bursts into the bloodstream where it infects red blood cells. Once there, if drugs are not available, or if the parasite is resilient to them, the malaria infection can rapidly develop into hypoglycemia, anemia, or cerebral malaria, in which capillaries carrying blood to the brain are blocked. If the disease develops into Cerebral malaria, it can cause coma, lifelong learning disabilities, and death.
Malaria medication, in places such as Sub-Saharan Africa, is difficult for most families to purchase or acquire as it is expensive and is sometimes non-affective on certain strains of malaria, for which there are more than a 100 species of. In cases where parents or caregivers develop malaria, they most commonly develop a high fever and become bedridden, making it that much more difficult to work and provide for not just their families, but also to purchase medication to get better. Further more, because the female Anopheles primarily bites between 9pm and 5am, it is extremely effective to help prevent the spread of Malaria through the use of practical mosquito bed nets.
Speaking with the Zambians, it was overwhelming to hear their optimism and outlook on the issue of Malaria, and to hear just how effective and ideal the solution to ending the disease is through the use of bed nets.The concept of a simple bed net as a preventative, one in which a child or parent does not have to worry if they will get sick, or if they will need to choose between medication or food, was one that was eye opening and completely compelling. How could I not share this story, a story of how simple it is to help get involved and end the spread of Malaria, and effectively end malaria itself.
This is a discussion on malaria, it's effects, it's victims, and it's preventatives. Is this the world you want?