The days have been flying as we’ve experienced a pretty late, but heavy malaria season. Thankfully, things seem to be slowing down. As you enter the cool season in the states, we do here as well, but I like to think of it as the “time when the mosquitos die” as we prepare for hot season. They show up in the mornings and evenings in masses. Now while I know those of you who live in the south can definitely relate, how often do you worry about getting a deadly disease from these pestering creatures? Here that is a fear and legitimate concern for many. And, the most effective and best option is for patients to have a mosquito net in good condition.
A few months ago I talked with one of our directors and we were able to get permission to buy 500 mosquito nets. While 500 seems like only a drop in the bucket when you have 60,000+ local people and 30,000 refugees in the nearest camp, along with another 100,000 spread across the other 3 nearby local camps, I was excited. The nets came on the flight just in time to help us with a huge need. We set up a program to give a net to children under the age of 5 who test positive for malaria. If every child who came to the clinic under 5 was given a net, they would be gone in a week. While those who live in the camp have opportunities (although they may be rare) to receive nets from other programs and organizations, the host community does not have that luxury. Many people who come to our clinic are from a Mabaan town named Kortumbak, north and closer to the border (a 4-6 walk depending on who you ask) from Doro. They do not have a market like Doro, much less health care resources. The majority of our patients from Kortumbak come because they have malaria, and we have had several small children who were very anemic as well from this disease. Below is one boy, Mohammed, a week after being discharged from the hospital. His hemoglobin (telling how much blood he had in his system) was around 4 (normal is about 12-12.5) when he had come to us. He was very sick and pale. After going to the hospital and getting a couple blood transfusions and treatment for malaria, he was doing much better. I am so thankful we were able to send a net home with this family and many other families who are struggling with malaria in this season.