We have dealt with and heard many sad stories of malaria and how it affects families. This is another sad story, an all too common story of the tragic effects of malaria.
Our good friend Apio, who works closely with Healing Faith, told us the sad story of her lifelong childhood friend. Her friend was excited that she was in the 8th month of her pregnancy. That is when tragedy struck in the form of a mosquito. This whole story revolves around a tiny little mosquito. Apio’s friend was bitten by an infected mosquito and contracted malaria. While malaria affects everyone, it is particularly bad for children and pregnant women.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in Africa, 30 million women living in malaria-endemic areas become pregnant each year. For these women, malaria is a threat both to themselves and to their babies, with up to 200 000 newborn deaths each year as a result of malaria in pregnancy. Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to malaria as pregnancy reduces a woman’s immunity to malaria, making her more susceptible to malaria infection and increasing the risk of illness, severe anemia and death. For the unborn child, maternal malaria increases the risk of spontaneous abortion, stillbirth, premature delivery and low birth weight - a leading cause of child mortality.
She became very ill and went to the government hospital for treatment. The government hospitals in Uganda are supposed to be free. “Free” is a relative term. Due to understaffing, supply shortages and corruption, people here often have to wait an extremely long time for treatment or receive no treatment at all due to the fact they have no money. Remember the part where I said it was supposed to be free? This gravely ill pregnant woman was forced to wait so long the malaria riddled her body. The malaria was so severe that is took the life of her unborn child. A child was lost due to a mosquito bite and the lack of adequate medical care.
As if the story was not sad enough if it were to end there, it gets worse. Once the hospital staff realized the baby had died, the mother should have been immediately rushed into surgery to remove the child from her womb. However, the mother was left to wait again. She was left to wait for so long that she became septic due to the death of her child inside her womb. The mother succumbed to the combination of malaria and sepsis and she too died. She left behind another young child. This child’s life is forever changed due to malaria.
Healing Faith is doing its level best to fight against malaria and to help defend women just like this. It is an uphill battle but one that is worth fighting. Want to join the fight?