Combating Malaria May Not Need Funding   2 comments

Today is Malaria Day, or something like that. One more ‘holiday’ or reminder that thousands die annually by no fault of their own by petty reasons. It is depressing. It is days like today that big agencies and countries devote millions of dollars¬† ‘fight the cause’ (Canada just gave $1.1 billion to protect women and their children). I have assisted in anti-malaria campaigns before. In Sub-Saharan African. In the deep rural bush. I have seen local nurses hand out subsidized malaria meds like candy because people claim to have malaria if they cough once, and the nurse cannot say no (or has no way of confirming the patient does in fact have malaria) for fear of being ostracized from the community. I was against total-coverage bed-net campaigns because most people do not learn by receiving handouts. Besides, bed-nets given to new mothers and/or their young child can be stolen by their husbands and/or be used as fishing net, and the like. However, my views changed when I attended a conference in Dakar after being told that when an entire community/village is given bed-nets, they are less apt to misuse the nets, less apt to barter with the nets, and more apt to take care of their nets because there is no competition and people without nets are seen as ‘uncool’. Also, in theory, if all people within a community sleep under the nets, no one gets malaria thus malaria does not spread when uninfected humans get bitten by non-malaria mosquito carriers. So, go bed-net campaigns! But, with that being said, with bed-nets, aren’t we just circumventing the real problem? Malaria is carried by mosquitoes. Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water, tall grass, and debris. So, if a community has total bed-net coverage but has many pools of stagnant water and frequent debris piles, malaria could potentially exist in that area. Point is this: if NGOs, FBOs, or even CSOs wanted to do pure grassroots anti-malaria implementations, I suggest the following.

  • Plan weekly ‘village/community’ cleanup day. Have a community meeting with all the appropriate elders, leaders, religious heads, and group hierarchies (female and male, young and old), get them informed, get their ‘buy-in’, and allow them to plan and implement this weekly event. The cleanup would consist of gathering all community trash, cutting tall grass and unwanted vegetation, and gathering the waste into piles either far from the village or burning them.
  • Post-rain puddle maintenance program. When it rains, many divots/indentations collect water. This water will stagnate (if not evaporated by the sun), thus has the potential to breed mosquitoes. If these post-rain puddles are quickly coverage up with dirt, rocks, sand, and/or other material, the less chance of pools of water.
  • Local mosquito repellant. I know in Mali, Senegal, The Gambia and a few more West African countries (there may be more) have the Neem trees. This trees’ leaves has antiseptic properties and can be used to make a local and cheap repellant that is good for the skin and fine for young babies. The cream can be applied before going to sleep while chatting outside in the evening.

All of these solutions are easy, cheap,and require no mega-agency’s assistance. Billions of dollars do not have to thrown away to combat something as simple as malaria. Thoughts?

  • Print
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • email

Posted April 25, 2011 by Travis Warrington in Development

Tagged with , , , , , , , , ,

2 responses to Combating Malaria May Not Need Funding

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. I think this is a great list of ideas, but I would like to challenge one aspect of the current methods of treatment. You said the village nurse you worked with just gave out medication without being able to confirm/deny the existence of malaria for a patient. My experience was quite different.
    After being ill for days in my village I traveled to Essau to be seen by a nurse. They took a blood smear which came up negative for malaria, and therefore denied me treatment. My symptoms persisted and finally I went to Kombo to the European hospital, they took another blood smear and it came up positive. The entire time I had malaria, only to find out that the testing strips that were provided at the hospital in Essau were contaminated and therefore produced false results.
    I am wondering what can be done to address this issue. Clearly, just giving out medication without testing can build up a patients immune system and be problematic, but similarly if not given the proper testing materials people who are sick can be denied treatment. Thoughts?

    • @J-
      What can be done is having medical officials tell communities that locally stationed nurses or medical personnel must test each person claiming to have malaria before receiving medication. If not, local nurses will be kicked out of the communities for ‘favoritism’ because they may not fully grasp why the sudden withholdment of medication. Second, easy to use and low-cost testing equipment must be readily available for all medical centers throughout Africa and other developing areas. If not, then malarial drugs become ineffective.

      Travis Warrington

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *