Today, our church kicked off its 175th anniversary celebration by having Rev. Katie Dawson come and speak about Imagine No Malaria. I remember hearing what she was going to preach about before today, but didn’t quite process it until we were in church. The entire service brought back many memories and feelings about my trip to Ghana.
First, some quick facts about malaria. First, it is a completely treatable disease transmitted by mosquito. If it is caught within 36 hours of the first symptoms, all ages have a good chance at survival, even the very young. After that though, it gets trickier. Second, over 600,000 people die from this treatable disease every year, most under the age of 5. Because the disease affects the red blood cells, it can work through a smaller body quicker than an adult. Third, prevention methods help. By distributing bed nets, groups like Imagine No Malaria have helped cut the death rate in half since the year 2000.
Two things stood out for me today listening to Rev. Dawson speak. Before, during and after the trip, I took anti-malaria pills. These pills were covered by my insurace for the trip, so I had very little concern about the cost of them, but I found out later, even in the states they are relatively expensive. I am making the guess then that no one in Africa takes these types of pills daily, instead just living with the risk of catching it. This is why the bed nets are so important. Mosquitos are most previlent in at night, so a bed net can lower the risk to almost nothing when in use.
The second, and more emotional thing, was thinking of the children at the school where we worked. Every once and a while, it hits me that there is a good chance that one of the children I met will come down with malaria. It makes me think of how far it was from their village to the clinic we donated supplies and the fact the clinic was not well prepared for a child with malaria.
There is good news out of all this. Donations to Imagine No Malaria really make a difference. For 10 bucks, one long lasting net (3-5 years) can be purchased. That same 10 dollars can get 10 early detection tests, to make sure that people are treated for the right thing. 10 dollars can pay for 3 courses of medicine as well. It doesn’t take much to make a change in people’s lives.