Malaria and Health Care in West Africa

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So I got malaria and boy was it a doozy! Mosquitos LOVE me, and despite the near constant use of DEET (sorry mother earth), always sleeping under a mosquito net, and being on malaria meds I still managed to get it. I was totally blind sighted and unprepared for the whole sha-bang and now as I battle the constant fatigue I am happy to say that I have come out the other side and will just have to be nice to my body while I recouperate.

I went on a small vacation and after three days seaside in Cote d’Ivoire I got a horrendous stomach ache, neasea, weakness, diziness and a whole slew of unpleasant symptoms. I thought I had food posioning and was initially relecutant to got to the clinic – good thing I did because within a few minutes of my test Doctors told me I definitely had Malaria.

The cash based economy in west africa makes privatized healthcare really effective – if you can afford it. Each step of the way through the health process you pay your way and your results are given almost instantaneously. You register – you pay. You see a doctor who orders tests – you pay. You get the test results and follow up instructions – you pay. It is costly but there is virtually no wait time and things run very smoothly. I have never moved so quickly through a health system despite the power outages and having to get some initial blood work done by the light of my iphone flashlight as we waited for the generator to kick in.

My malian friends and work family have been great and are now saying that I am “truly a Malian woman” now. And I am happy to report that despite the fact that I am still sleeping 18 hours a day I seem to be through the worst of it.  This experience has given me a lot to think about in terms of how people succomb to Malaria and other preventable illnesses because they lack financial means to pay for healthcare or take care of themselves physically with good food and clean water to enable them to fight common diseases. I am lucky to have the means to afford health care and to have general health in my favour.

So as my three year old friend Diyia says “dang those squitos”

All the love,

K.

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