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From Times of Zambia - available at Africa News


Zambia; Look out! It's Malaria season again

BYLINE: Lamba Simpito, Times of Zambia (Lusaka)

DATELINE: October 19, 1999

Lusaka - "I Came close to death. That was a terrible experience," says Mrs. Christine Zulu of Lusaka.

"I lost control of my body, it was as though some alien being had taken over," she adds as she narrates her encounter with malaria. Malaria is the number one killer disease in the world.

Every year, it kills more than one million people world wide, 90 per cent of them in Africa. The most affected are children and pregnant women.

According to the World Health Organisation, Malaria kills nearly 3,000 people every day, most of them children in Africa. The disease is transmitted by female mosquitoes carrying malaria parasites.

Mosquitoes breed wherever stagnant water can collect: in ponds, swamps, pools, pits and drains. They have even been known to breed in tin cans and hoof prints where water collects.

They may also breed along the edges of streams. As the rain season approaches, the danger of contracting the disease increases considerably and you need to take precautions against this lethal illness .

Filling in with mud or stones or draining places where water collects can kill the mosquito larvae. Regular clean-ups of neighborhoods also help reduce mosquito breeding. Pregnant women and children are especially prone to malaria because of their wenker immunity.

Care should be taken to protect them from mosquito bites malaria is extremely dangerous during pregnancy. It can lead to severe anaemia and may cause miscarriage, premature or still birth.

Babies born to women with malaria are also likely to be small. weak and vulnerable to infections.

You can keep mosquitoes away from children and pregnant women by using bednets . If possible, use insecticide Treated Bednests (ITNs) such as Powernets from the society for Family Health. ITNs can ensure your family's protection against the disease by repelling and killing mosquitoes.

You can also keep mosquitoes away by using fumigants such as mosquito coils or other local repellants such as mango leaves . In addition, pregnant women can be effectively protected against malaria by taking anti-malaria tablets through pregnant.

As earlier pointed out, exposing your family to malaria can have very serious consequencies. Many lives have been needlessly lost because simple precautions were not taken to protect people from the disease.

Christine Zulu, almost lost her life to the killer disease in March Principally because she had done little to protect herself from malaria. She says the disease sneaked up on her while she was on night at the University Teaching Hospital.

"We were working on a patient when suddenly, I felt very cold. This was around 03 hrs.

I tried to continue but was seized by violent shivering and goose pimples broke out all over me. I decided to reset and though some sleep might do me good," Christine remembers. But the rest did her no good and when she woke up at 0600 hours her condition had become worse.

"My temperature had risen to 38.5 degrees and my joints were painful. I was restless and couldn't breath properly.

I tried to help our with a patient and almost fell over her. At that moment. I knew I was very ill," Christine.

And yet, it was not until 10.00 hours, seven hours after the first symptom, that Christine took her first medicine, the prescribed 4 tablets of chloroquine to start with. But even though she completed the full course, she had apparently left it very late.

Infact almost too late. When her younger sister, Susan visited her the following day, Christine couldn't walk, nor could she recognise anyone or in hat surroundings she was. "Her eyes kept rolling in their sockets and I thought she would die right there and then," remembers the younger sister.

Two hours later, Christine was lying unconcious in the University Teaching Hospital and for 48 hours, she remained on the brink of death. But on the third day, she began her slow painful recovery. In the meantime, she had lost both her speech and hearing and had developed severe anaemia. "It took me more than a month to fully recover .

It is an experience I would not wiSh on my worst enemy," says the lucky nurse. But not all victims of malaria are as lucky as Christine was . And if you do not protect yourselves as a community or as a family from malaria, you may very well lose someone to this deadly disease.

To Your Health is brought to you by the Central Board of Health . In addition, please tune in to ZNBC's Television and Radio One and Two.

If you need more information on this and any health topic, please write to: To Your Health Central Board Health PO box 32588 Lusaka


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