Umm Sulaim's Thoughts

Thoughts Lead To Appreciation




Malaria! Another malaria season is gradually coming to an end.

My first year in Sokoto was the year of malaria; I had five bouts of malaria.  That was definitely unsustainable.  How much haemoglobin do I have that I should donate blood to female Anopheles mosquitoes to nourish their eggs, not to mention have my blood cells destroyed by another worse creature, the Apicomplexa Plasmodium falciparum, the malaria-causing organism, and its brothers?

I have since had a malarial infection once in the last five years. Unbelievable, is it not, considering I live in middle of Africa?  I shall share my special key to a malaria-free health care in one statement:

Avoid being bitten by those chewy organisms – Anopheles mosquitoes.

This is obvious, yes, but easily neglected.  To accomplish this, a permutation of the following steps is essential:

  • Protect the windows and doors of ones home with a mosquito net.

Once installed, these mosquito nets become a permanent feature of the home and are an excellent investment. Ensure the door net is shut tight and is kept open for a minimal period enough to allow passage of human, but not of mosquito traffic.

Note that mosquitoes do attach themselves to the door net and to ones clothes.  It is an excellent idea to eliminate such a possibility by tapping the net and ones clothes gently before entering the home.

  • Observe the movement of mosquitoes.

Early in the morning, Anopheles mosquitoes leave their free night accommodation in another person’s residence with their abdomen filled with blood.  Doors should be kept shut for a few hours after dawn to prevent these mosquitoes from finding a new resting place in ones home.  If one must perform some chores early in the morning, avoid standing still for any length of time to keep mosquitoes from biting.

Note: Mosquitoes that have any trace of blood in their abdomen are likely reservoir for Plasmodium species, the malaria-causing organisms.  Be extra cautious about these.  One might occasionally ignore blood-free mosquitoes.  To do the same with even a single mosquito that has had a blood meal elsewhere increases the probability of a malarial infection.

  • Purchase a can of insecticides.

During the hot and humid season when one has to keep the windows and doors ajar to aid ventilation, a can of insecticide should be kept at hand.  The insecticide should be used only when necessary, i.e. only when it is certain mosquitoes have infested ones home.

  • Protection outside the home.

With the doors ajar to facilitate ventilation, one may sit in the open within ones premises, either under a mosquito net or armed with a device, garment, etc with which to flap around ones body in order to prevent mosquitoes from settling and biting.  It is pointless to sit outside the home without protective arrangements, only to retire under a bed net.

  • Mosquito-repellents.

There are some other products designed to ward off mosquitoes.  The well-known ones in the form of mosquito coils are carcinogenic and should be avoided. Moreover, they do not kill the mosquitoes and once the coils are exhausted, mosquitoes return for a sequel.

There are also body jelly that repel mosquitoes. I have not tried them. The thought of rubbing extra grease on my body in the heat is a thumb down.

As mentioned earlier, insecticides should be used sparingly, as they too have side effects. And to asthma patients, including myself, the need for caution is heightened. The idea is to kill the insects not to harm oneself in the process. Sometimes, I feel I suffer more than the nibbly creatures.

Protect yourself and your loved ones.  Prevention is healthier, cheaper and less emotionally and physically draining than treatment.  Have a malaria-free family.

~ Post-Publication Addendum ~

2017 was a malaria-free year for me.
That means I have suffered a malarial infection only three times in the last ten years.



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