Whenever, I don’t understand something and I want to figure it out, I usually end up having long in-depth conversations with myself until I comprehend it. These conversations can last minutes, hours or weeks and usually take the form of a minimally “enlightened”, scientifically minded version of myself being interviewed (none too happily) by a more romantic, philosophical version of me. April 25 was World Malaria Day and here is an example of an interview I had with myself on that day:
Romantic Me: So what exactly is malaria?
Enlightened Me: Malaria is a disease caused by a parasite that is transmitted by a certain type of mosquito who takes her bloodmeal after dusk.
RM: Bloodmeal. That would be an awesome name for a heavy metal band.
EM: I somehow knew you would say that.
RM: So what happens when you have malaria?
EM: The symptoms are very much like having the flu – fever, chills, body aches, vomiting, and it can get really serious and quickly lead to death if not treated properly.
RM: So it is curable?
EM: It is curable and somewhat preventable though there is no vaccine for it, yet.
RM: If it is curable and somewhat preventable, what is the big deal?
EM: It is curable and preventable for those people who have access to such treatments and prophylaxis. Many, if not most, people living in developing countries do not have that access. That’s why it is considered one of the deadliest parasitic diseases on the planet.
RM: How many people have it in Burkina?
EM: In 2009, there were 4.5 million cases reported here and it was responsible for 60% of the overall deaths.
RM: Why don’t we have it?
EM: Actually, we do. We have the parasite living inside of us but we take a medicine to keep the number of the parasites at a controllable level for our body. We also sleep under a treated mosquito net which helps prevent the parasitic level from getting to high.
RM: So the millions of others here who don’t have the US Government providing them medication are not easily able to control the parasitic level in their body?
RM: That’s why we have so many of our students and friends telling us they don’t feel well and we can see the fever in their eyes?
RM: And if a child is constantly really sick while growing up that could affect their mental and intellectual development which we see in many of the students we teach?
RM: So if it is curable, somewhat preventable, and has already been eradicated from the US and other developed countries where it once existed, how is it that it still affects billions of people?
EM: I don’t know.
RM: So what exactly is malaria?
Here is one from John to help with the campaign here to Stomp Out Malaria in Burkina. You can find the english translation in the description.
Here is a cool short video (thus easy to download) on malaria I happened to run into while searching for John’s video on YouTube: