DRC Malaria Team Witnesses Firsthand the Devastating Effects of the Disease
The IMA DRC Malaria Team is having great success with their hang up in West Kasai. So far the team has completed two zones, Kitangua and Banga, for a total of 89,600 bed nets donated by the Against Malaria Foundation. The team has now moved on to Kamonia Health Zone, where they will finish the distribution there in the next few days.
The team has been ultimately inspired by their experiences in the field. One hears the statistics regularly, but it is not often that one experiences the plight of this disease first hand. So far three team members have contracted malaria themselves while in the field doing their best to help prevent the disease. One team member was even hospitalized. Thanks to the medications that the team carries with them, all are in good health now.
Sadly, others the team has encountered have not been so lucky. One night while in Kitangua, Dr. Charlotte Ndolerire heard a frantic knock on her window. She opened her door and outside a family stood with a small child in their arms. They begged for her help. Their child had malaria. She pointed them toward the room where the resident nurse was staying while the team was in Kitangua. A few moments later cries rang out in the night. Unfortunately the family was too late. The child had died in their arms. Often this is the case. Families do not understand the serious consequences of this disease. They wait until the disease has progressed to a stage where nothing can be done. Malaria is highly curable, but must me treated early in its evolution. The proper medications must be taken at the very first sign of symptoms. Once the disease has progressed further it can be very difficult to treat.
The team is seeing the statistics first hand: Close to 500 people die of malaria in DRC per day, the majority children. The team visits every hospital to hang nets. The majority of patients are sick with malaria. Although witnessing the devastation that this disease causes can be very difficult, it gives great satisfaction to know that the work that IMA is doing will help prevent another family’s heartache.