End of Term and Malaria Season in the Village

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Madam Malichi, grade 3 teacher, gives a literacy test to her 50+ students at the end of term. One of her students, pictured first, is sick with malaria. He slept on the sofa for the whole day waiting to be escorted home by an older brother. Many times children come to school when they are ill with malaria rather than stay at home alone. During term one, rainy season, malaria rates are incredibly high. We lost two school pupils, a grade one student and grade seven student.

I often received the statement, “but in American you are lucky, because you have no mosquitoes there.” This was made by Zambians, but even most Americans don’t know that malaria was once a serious problem in United States. The CDC was founded in 1936 specifically to deal with malaria and a campaign begun in the late 1940’s introduced DDT and by late 1949 the US was declared malaria free. If you have time you should check out the PRI coverage of malaria in America. They even include a Times magazine advertisement saying “DDT is good for me!”

Interesting history lesson for us, but is it realistic at all for  government in Zambia? The US campaign to eradicate malaria included draining swamps in the South and building sewers and storm drains in towns. People in mosquito prone areas of the South were very receptive to the idea of spraying inside homes and complied. I wonder if Zambia can manage these infrastructure changes and changing attitudes as currently people are not receptive to spraying inside of homes.

Around 2006 Zambia announced a massive program (with big funding from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other partners) to try to roll back malaria. Malaria Control and Evaluation Partnership in Africa (MACEPA) has the ambitious goal of rolling back malaria infections by 75% in Zambia. It would be interesting to evaluate how successful this campaign has been.

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