This is a tad late, but World Malaria Day was last month. It fell on the week we were moving in so we weren’t able to do much for it, but I wanted to write a bit about malaria here.
Malaria is a big deal all over Africa. It’s easy to forget it exists when you live in the States, but everywhere you turn here somebody is sick with malaria. Malaria kills 2000 babies a day worldwide. It’s the number one most common illness at all of the clinics in Ghana. Ghana has a population of 25.2 million and there are roughly 3.5 million cases of malaria reported annually. That’s a lot!
Malaria is caused by a parasite that is transmitted through the bite of the female anopheles mosquito. Educating people about transmission, prevention, and treatment is part of what we will be doing here. We have already spent some time doing house to house education and were surprised to find many people didn’t know the cause of malaria. They thought it came from things like green mangoes, trash, or dirt.
Soon we will start holding workshops and dispensing bed nets to those in need. If 80% of our community slept under a bed net the malaria burden would be greatly reduced. What Ghana is currently doing to terminate malaria is: encouraging wide-spread use of insecticide treated bed nets, preventative treatment for pregnant women, advocating for early treatment, and spraying the insides of homes. It’s a great plan, but we have a ways to go in terms of execution.
So now you see, there are ways to reduce and even eliminate malaria (it used to be in the States too). We just all have to work at it. Chris and I honestly didn’t know much about malaria until we got here, but we are glad we can now be part of the solution to a giant challenge that plagues our friends on this side of globe.