Malaria: A Family Concern

Drug resistant strains of malaria in Uganda
require a change in medications.

When Bishop Daniel Wandabula of the East Africa Annual Conference called together leaders from his vast region (it includes Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Southern Sudan, Tanzania, & Uganda), one young mother arrived with a sick child.

Upon examination the nurse at Humble Place Village where the meeting was held, identified malaria as the cause and began treatment. It was a telling experience.

When I asked about health needs, the most frequent response I was given is that malaria remains the top concern because it is the leading cause of death in the country. Many people call it the most deadly disease.

To be sure, malnutrition, TB, HIV/AIDS all get mentioned. But malaria affects so many children that it is a widespread concern to parents and health practitioners wherever we visited.

Moreover, a new wrinkle has developed. Drug resistant strains are making commonly used chloroquin ineffective and new formulations are required. The government has changed its protocols to reflect the requirement to use the new formulations. That alone makes the problem significant. But the increased costs of the new formulations worry some health practitioners. The new formulations cost $10 for a full course of treatment. In a country where the majority of the people are poor and earn less than a dollar a day, this cost is prohibitive.

Government subsidies help. But individuals and non-governmental organizations, such as the church, that don’t receive subsidies are concerned about their ability to buy the medications.

This young mother is one of our own. And that emphasizes something important for me: malaria is a family concern.

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