The in-depth meaning of the common saying ‘prevention is better than cure’ is never really thought of until one is yearning for a cure for something that could have been prevented.
Such was the case with 19 year old Robinah Nalubaale, a ‘defiant’ teenager who loathed sleeping under a mosquito net until she got a health scare, when she tested an episode of malaria.
Uganda, the Ministry of Health notes, has the sixth highest number of annual deaths from malaria in Africa, as well as some of the highest reported malaria transmission rates in the world, with approximately 16 million cases reported in 2013 and over 10,500 deaths annually.
What malaria victims say;
Robinah Nalubaale is a resident of Mulago. A year ago, she was diagnosed with malaria. Prior to the unfortunate encounter, she was reluctant to sleep under a mosquito net every night.
According to her, mosquito nets were old fashioned and are used by mainly young children and the elderly, because of their vulnerability to illnesses.
However, this her myth, proved fatal when she, a 19 year old, energetic girl, contracted malaria and was ill for some good weeks before eventually giving in to have the tests done and procure treatment.
With the symptoms experienced, Nalubaale still pushed off the possibility of having malaria, which only made her encounter more severe.
“I would feel so weak, I also had a very high temperature. I started vomiting and even got a running stomach. I stayed in that condition for one month before going to seek medical care. I was always feverish and I lost appetite,” she narrated.
Nalubaale opted for self medication to alleviate the pain, “the signs were on and off but recurring.”
She revealed that even when she finally went to hospital, it took a while before she started on the necessary treatment due to the high costs of procuring one.
“Acquiring malaria was a challenge because apart from weakening me, it took me long to receive treatment as there was no money. At least Shs 70,000 was spent on the whole treatment,” she said.
“I started my treatment eventually, I got injections with serious medications and some tablets,” she added.
She revealed that she got some relief after a week on treatment, as some of the symptoms were starting to disappear.
“After a week, I started feeling much better. However, I had to continue with the treatment because I could still feel a bit of fever,” Nalubaale said.
She admitted that she was not sleeping in a mosquito net when she got fever and she was later advised to go to Nabweru Health Centre III, where she acquired a free mosquito net.
“I learnt to sleep in a mosquito net and clean my homestead to remove anything that can attract mosquitoes to breed from around here,” she said.
Fighting Malaria Through Advocating For Sleeping Under Mosquito Nets
The government through the Ministry of Health has always and is currently sensitizing people to sleep under mosquito nets every night.
On top of this, the Ministry is giving out free Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets to the population, in the ‘under the net’ campaign.
On a serious note, pregnant women have been encouraged to sleep under treated mosquito nets to minimize the adverse effects of malaria on the unborn and new born babies.
A Lancet study on ‘Child and Adolescent Health’ shows that Malaria infection during pregnancy and delivery is associated with 200,000 stillbirths per year in the sub-Saharan Africa.
It also indicates that in Africa, up to 100,000 infant deaths each year are attributable to low birthweight caused by maternal infection with the deadly Plasmodium falciparum during pregnancy.