Malaria in the Congo

jessicanipp

Pastor Chuck Fluegel recently completed his four-month assignment to assist the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He shares the following story:

“Local medical personnel have asked for help in tracking down a disease that killed twelve children in ten days this fall, near Kabinda, Eastern Kasai Province, Democratic Republic of Congo. Epidemiologists from the province came to study the signs and symptoms of the new disease.

Children were being lost at the rate of three a day in Kalonda East Rural Health Zone, one doctor reported. A later report said that 50 children had died from the unknown disease.

The epidemiologist’s report finally came in. The report said that all of the children were severely malnourished and so they died quickly when they contracted malaria.

This is a story repeated every day in DR Congo rural communities. Health services are thin to non-existent for huge geographical areas. Parents sometimes try to walk the 10 to 50 miles to the nearest clinic, only to realize that their child needed treatment yesterday or the day before. Then the parents must return home clutching a dead child.

In light of malaria’s devastating effects, malaria prevention is the way to go —  protecting pregnant mothers and their children from malaria. Prevention begins with cutting the grass and small bushes which provide cover for the mosquitos during the day. Because mosquitos can smell the carbon dioxide in your breath from 100 yards away, it is to your advantage to drive mosquitos at least that far from your house. Getting rid of standing and stagnant water is another must, to keep the next generation down.

Insecticide-treated mosquito nets are an efficient way to protect pregnant moms and under five children. The insecticide treated nets last some three to five years.

Four important ways to prevent malaria:

  1. Remove stagnant water, shrubs, weeds and grass from around your house.
  2. Always sleep under a treated mosquito net.
  3. Use a strong insect spray on the ceiling and upper walls.
  4. Use malaria medicine twice during a pregnancy to insure that both mother and child are healthier at birthing.”