Africa Malaria Day 2006

Plasmodium FalciparumToday is Africa Malaria Day and this year the focus is on the need to provide universal access to artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs). ACTs are the newest hope for making serious progress toward defeating the Queen of Diseases.

African children are dying of malaria at the rate of one every 30 seconds. Take a minute to try to comprehend that number – and two more die.

Malaria kills an estimated million people worldwide every year, 90 percent of them in Africa. That relentless toll saps energy, money and hope from communities all over sub-Saharan Africa. “Malaria is also a major cause of anemia in children and pregnant women, low birth weight, premature birth and infant mortality,” the Roll Back Malaria partnership says. “In endemic African countries, malaria accounts for 25–35 percent of all outpatient visits, 20–45 percent of hospital admissions and 15–35 percent of hospital deaths, imposing a great burden on already fragile health-care systems.”
New Hope for Tackling an Old Scourge on Africa Malaria Day, Tami Hultman,, April 25, 2006

While I lived in Togo, I had malaria many times. I’ll never forget my first malaria attack: bundled up in a sleeping bag on the bed of a pickup truck in a 90-degree, humid rainy-season night, I was shivering uncontrollably for hours, thinking that this was it – I was just going to kick the bucket right then and there. For hours I tried to focus my mind by composing a suitable obituary in my head. By the end of my “malaria career” I had tried a wide variety of drugs to deal with it, and they either produced significant side effects or were useless. Some of the drugs produced side effects that were almost as bad as the Malaria itself (hallucinations and panic attacks, liver problems).

Artemisinin sounds like the holy grail to combat this ancient killer, and in combination with other comprehensive efforts, Malaria eradication is possible.

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