Today is World Malaria Day.
In Galmi, often it feels like everyday is Malaria Day. Last year, we treated a confirmed 33,950 cases of malaria. Over 30,000 of those cases were in children. 2/3 of the overall total were children under 5.
Malaria is caused by parasites that are passed from person to person through the bites of a very specific type of mosquito. The parasites work to damage the red blood cells of their human host. If untreated, this can result in other conditions such as anemia, hypoglycemia and cerebral malaria, all of which can lead to death.
Cerebral malaria is not only life threatening, but can result in severe physical and cognitive deficits for those who survive. This is a result of blockage to the capillaries in the brain, which can have a stroke-like affect on the body.
Malaria can be prevented with chemical prophylaxis and the use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets. However, in Niger there are strict protocols determined by the Ministry of Health which limit the prescribing of prophylactic medications throughout the country. This is due, in part, to concerns related to resistance.
While we do see patients with malaria throughout the year, our “Malaria Season” is typically August through to the end of October. Of course this could start early or end late, depending on the frequency and extension of the Rainy Season. During “Malaria Season” our medical caseload will double or triple. That means babies must share beds, sometimes two or three on the same mattress with all the moms crammed on mats on the floor.
Unfortunately, while our capacity will triple, our staffing does not. We do have the luxury of hiring per-diem nurses or doctors to help manage the load. This results in very long hours and very heavy caseloads for our medical staff.
Would you consider coming to help?
For more information, contact us.