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
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
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
effectively protected against malaria by taking anti-malaria tablets through
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
"We were working on a patient when suddenly, I felt very cold. This was around
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
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
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
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
protect yourselves as a community or as a family from malaria, you may
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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