Malaria is a killer disease and it's a common disease. The mosquitoes that transmit malaria are extremely common and numerous. And it seems that half of them live in our house. I have never, ever lived in a house that has as many mosquitoes as this one. In Tera we could sit outside in the evening and get bit less than we do inside here. It seems that we wage constant battle against mosquitoes even though we have good screens on our windows that don't seem to be full of holes.
We have a handy tennis racket zapper. This is extremely satisfying when you make connection with a mosquito and hear the frying sound. However, it doesn't just work on its own. It requires that a person picks it up and makes contact with a mosquito. So, it doesn't work so well if you're trying to eat dinner or sleep.
We have a new little contraption another family told us about. It has blue LED lights which apparently attract mosquitoes. There is also a small fan inside. So when the mosquitoes come to check out the light, the fan sucks them in and they die. This contraption works best at night. And we can't stand the light in our bedroom, but we've been leaving it on all night in the living room. Look what we find in it in the morning. Yes, that is only one night. I think I like this little machine!
Insect repellent is a must for when we will be outside in the evenings. John always makes sure to wear long trousers and socks, but sorry, that's not an option for me. Yes, I know, I could wear socks with my wrapper or skirt, but, no, that's not going to happen! I even put this on in the evenings in the house sometimes. Did you know mosquitoes are out most at dusk and the evening and around dawn?
We sleep under a mosquito net. I would rather not, but when we were waking up with blood smears all over the sheets from our mosquito bites we decided a net was a very good idea.
And we take a prophylaxis....a medicine to prevent illness. There are three good choices, but we've settled on doxycyline which we take daily. Woops! Kitty photo-bombed that one!
All of this seems to be working as I've only had malaria once and John's only had it once....at least since we've been married. But I almost died, so we take prevention seriously.
But what about our friends and neighbors who can't afford all these contraptions, creams, and medicines? What do they do? I guess the answer is obvious....they get malaria. And many of them die.
The WHO has an interesting fact-sheet about malaria which you can check out here.
Many people here do use mosquito nets and the government often gives insecticide treated nets to people and to pregnant women, especially. But since most people sleep outside, it's not long until the net is ruined. We're not talking about wheeling a nice bed outside, we're talking about sleeping on a mat on the ground.
Small children and pregnant women are most vulnerable to malaria. Malaria is also more severe in those suffering from malnutrition as their bodies are already weak. Malaria season (rainy season, but especially the end of the rainy season) also coincides with harvest season when people come home exhausted at the end of each day from the physical labor of their fields. It is also the end of the "hungry time"...people haven't eaten well since their food ran out some time in March or April, or earlier.
Right now the doctors at our mission-run hospital in Galmi are maxed out with treating malaria patients.
They see more patients during September and October than in any other time period. Can you please pray for them as they deal with constant sickness and dying? Will you pray that they can find creative days to work their shifts so that each doctor and nurse gets the rest they need? Pray for the medical staff to provide quality, competent health care while showing the compassion for Christ, even when they are exhausted.
We praise God that we are in good health, but continue to pray for God's protection from illness.