Monday, May 19, 2008

How much malerone can you take?

Perhaps the most sobering moment when I prepare for Africa is buying the malaria drugs.  They are tough on my system, but also a moment of pause when I remember that Africa is hard on your health.

Spending three weeks asking people about malaria in Malawi two years ago has made it a pit more than hypothetical; seeing a once healthy child one year and then permanently disable the next made it personal.  Yet, malaria is just a part of life in sub-Saharan Africa.  

I saw this when trying to suggest to a gathering of teachers that a vaccine could wipe out malaria in their lifetime.  "Impossible" one teacher said and then gave me a scolding glance to suggest such thoughts are better left unsaid.

Having my children take anti-malaria drugs, sleep under a bed net and have maxi deet sprayed on their clothes is something that ever reminds me of the power and blessings of the west.  A bed net, maybe, is what is available to a Malawian child.  

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