The toddler laid on the straw mat in the shade. He was hot with fever from malaria. Fatima got him a cup of water to drink from and I sprinkled droplets on his head. His mother, Constancia, had gone to the fields to get food. When she returned I was overcome with care for her as she looked like she was going to pass out at any time. She shared that she had been throwing up since morning. She is a widow who has four children to care for and like any other mother she keeps on going to provide for them. While everything in me wanted to get her and her child to the clinic, we called on the God who knows all her needs and prayed for her.
Mozambique is one of the top 10 countries with the highest malaria burden according to the World Health Organization. In Mozambique children die of malaria more than any other disease. In 2011 an estimated 176 Mozambican people out of 1000 die yearly with 103 of those being children. I took the opportunity to ask the Xicumbane women some questions concerning malaria:
Do you have mosquito nets? Does the government provide those for you?
Yes, they do but they only give out one per family.
Does anyone ever come and spray this area for mosquitoes?
They laugh. No.
Are you able to get medication for it?
Yes but the clinic has been out and so has the other two clinics.
These other two clinics they speak of are several miles from the village. The Ngala clinic was resupplied the following day but another problem is that they must cross the river to the Ngala clinic to be seen. With the river being high, they must pay R30 to go by boat and another R30 to return. Many do not have the money to do that.
Has anyone that you know of died from malaria here?
No, not that we know of.
So what do you do if you can’t get medication?
Well, we trust God. If it is our time to die then we die if not He will bring us through.
This is a truth that we teach the women: the concept of God’s sovereignty. Yet, when I hear their words of faith I am always amazed and humbled.
Malaria is treatable and preventable. Unfortunately not everyone in this area has a mosquito net to help protect themselves. There are many different types of malaria and a blood test will detect the parasite and the anti-malaria drug for that type will be given. It has an incubation time of seven days to three months. Here is a typical cycle of malaria according to the Mayo Clinic:
Mosquito transmission cycle
Uninfected mosquito. A mosquito becomes infected by feeding on a person who has malaria.
Transmission of parasite. If you’re the next person this mosquito bites, it can transmit malaria parasites to you.
In the liver. The parasites then travel to your liver — where they can lie dormant for as long as a year.
Into the bloodstream. When the parasites mature, they leave the liver and infect your red blood cells. This is when people typically develop malaria symptoms.
On to the next person. If an uninfected mosquito bites you at this point in the cycle, it will become infected with your malaria parasites and can spread them to the next person it bites.
Please pray for the people of this area in Mozambique as they battle this outbreak.