Thoughts on Malaria
Malaria continues to be a thorn in the flesh for mankind in spite of various initiatives to end it. Plasmodium transmitting mosquitoes are endemic across tropical Africa, just as much as we have insecticides and mosquito repellents and malaria treating drugs of every kind. And they are not cheap either, since most of them are manufactured outside Africa.
The socio- economic impacts of malaria are immense. Mosquitoes and Malaria are a multimillion dollar business just like HIV/AIDS. We cannot wish away malaria or even decide to wipe out the malaria ‘causing’ I write causing in quotes because my understanding is that mosquitoes do not cause malaria. Mosquitoes and thus malaria is both bane and blessing by the same measure, depending on which side of the pendulum you are in.
Which bring me to our researches and communication of research findings to the end user. Amidst a myriad of legal shenanigans about intellectual property rights researchers continue to work within communities to try find solutions to different medical problems .Malaria is no exception. Many a times, public funds are invested in these processes; yet, the presentation of these statistics and other findings by academics, journalists is in so many numerous books, training courses and presentations that only leave the end user confused.
Allow me to ignorantly observe that in villages in Africa today, treating malaria and many other diseases is a process that would push chemotherapy a distant second place. Not only are there so many different drugs with complex medical jargon, some, novel while others, generic. But malaria keeps resisting them at a pace that is incomprehensible to many of us, me included!.How in the hell an illiterate poor villager who lives on less than a dollar a day is supposed to master the names and prescription of these medicines is as mind boggling as the impact collider is to a nursery school kid.
Which gets me asking if there is there a better way by which journalists, and scientists can present risk and probabilities in ways that ‘unclouds’ the intended message, get their audience's(that poor illiterate villager) attention, their trust. How can scientific findings be clearly and accurately communicated and translated into something widely understandable?
I have seen people use ‘cow dung –smoke’, pepper, some herbs as repellents etc. ‘Yes, they work’- many observe, but do they stop malaria attacks? I use a mosquito net to get a good night’s sleep, knowing the mosquitoes will hum a lullaby for me to sleep soundly- yeah but I still get on the average, one malaria attack in two or three months. This gets me thinking on how best we can one the general population estimate of risk of exposure to mosquitoes against the probability of contracting Malaria, variation in individual risks vis-à-vis their age, diet, sanitation level of their surroundings/location, education level, income, lifestyle factors, adaptations, genetic factors etc..
As for the usage of mosquito nets as fishing gear, folks, let us just be honest. This is usually done by children living in the littoral region more as pastime that also gets them some little fish for a snack here and there. They normally use old mosquito nets which work better than the fishing hooks. This is an innovative way to get the fish. Children in towns will buy toys,play Nintendo etc, the ones in the village on the lakeshores go fishing most of the times, in all manner of ways.And if you ever found some women fishing using mosquito nets, just know that the women on the lakeshore do their laundry in the lake… including the mosquito nets. So why not catch some little fish that come to eat the breadcrumbs !Dan Andrew Otedo.Program Officer,The African Center for Women,InformationsCommunications Technology(ACWICT)Tel :(+254)-020-3862907/107cell phone :+254720366094.e-mail: dotedo@...g