It’s April 25 and 12 year old Blessings Phiri traveled, by foot for hours from his village to sit in the waiting room of Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe, Malawi. This time around, malaria has hit him hard.
Blessings experiences the typical symptoms – nausea, headache, high fevers, periodic chills and sweats, muscle aches and a loss in appetite.
“I think that dying is sometimes better than going through this,” said Phiri.
Malawi’s Ministry of Health reports that malaria remains to be one of the key health problems facing the nation. Currently, up to 325 people in every 1,000 Malawian suffer from the illness every year according to last year’s figures.
“It’s the worst feeling in the world,” said Phiri, who sits with his hands covering his face.
Coincidentally enough, April 25 was World Malaria Day. It marked the height of global efforts to build awareness of the mosquito-borne parasitic disease. During this day, the Ministry of Health specifically emphasized to Malawian on the need of using insecticide treated nets to prevent being bitten by malaria-laden mosquitoes.
“I don’t have a mosquito net for my bed. No one in my family does,” said Phiri.
According to UNICEF, many children do not sleep under insecticide-treated nets. If malaria is recognized early, it can be cured, however, UNICEF stated that many Malawians are not able to access treatment within 24 hours of onset of symptoms.
Although malaria is both preventable and treatable, many people in Malawi cannot afford the treatments due to poverty.
The Ministry of Health said that support from development-partners remains a significant resource to ensure access to life-saving and cost-effective malaria interventions.
“Continued investment in malaria control will propel Malawi, a malaria-endemic country along the path to achieve the 2015 Millennium Development Goals, especially those relating to improving child survival, maternal health, eradicating extreme poverty and expanding access to education,” according to the press statement released April 25 by the Ministry of Health.
Millions of lives depend on the strong support and the Ministry of Health is optimistic that living a malaria-free life is an attainable goal.