Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A single mother protecting her family from malaria

Our first update for today is about the battle against malaria in Malawi. The Daily Times' Mike Kamande profiled a poor single mother who can not afford mosquito nets for everyone in her family. However, she did get some help from the aid group Nets For Life. The group has distributed 63,000 mosquito nets throughout the country.

It is a known fact that sleeping under an insecticide-treated net drastically reduces malaria transmission but few people have access to nets and so the disease remains a scourge in Sub Saharan Africa, Malawi included. Granted that a net costs about K900 in most shops, it is such an uphill struggle for an ordinary villager, more so a single mother like Anastazia Mphadzula to source that fortune just to buy the life saving net.

Anastazia, 54, of Ndirande Village, T/A Lundu in Chikwawa, a mother of 3 has experienced numerous and frequent close-shaves with malaria most especially her 12 grandchildren of whom she is the only parent.

“Malaria has ravaged my family so much and a month could not pass without one of my grandchildren falling ill to the disease” she said.

She added that due to poverty she could not afford to purchase nets for her large family and so the young ones and herself were condemned to perpetual malaria attacks, and that culminated into reduced productivity in her garden as she spent most of her time attending to her sick family members.

“The health of the people is really the foundation upon which all their happiness and all their powers as a state depends,” once observed Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881). And in truth, everyday it was becoming more apparent that no satisfactory solution to her problems was possible so long as poverty remained at the head of her affairs.

Nonetheless, long at last, a smile emanated from Anastanzia’s face, when NetsForLife, a charitable non-governmental organisation donated a insecticide-treated net that helped reduce her miseries due to malaria. And there could be no mistaking her happiness recently as she bubbled with joy when she recounted her past ordeal.

“It’s unbelievable how a small thing like a net could be so useful in saving so many lives from the pangs of a killer disease like malaria, emancipating an old woman like myself from the slavery that mosquitoes posed on me,” she said.

The sad part of the story, however, is that although she is ready to sacrifice her own life due to the fact that she was given only a single net, she reasoned she ought not to sacrifice lives of her grandchildren, observing that unlike before, the children are now huddled under the net to protect them from malaria spreading mosquitoes. She, however, wished the nets were many.

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