As a part of the online marketing campaign: A teen’s story of an encounter with malaria, myths about the usage of mosquito nets
The profound meaning of the general adage “prevention is better than cure” is only really considered when one is craving a cure for something that could have been prevented.
Such was the case of 19-year-old Robinah Nalubaale, a “defiant” teenager who hated sleeping under a mosquito net until she developed health problems when she tested an episode of malaria.
Uganda, according to the Ministry of Health, has the sixth highest number of malaria deaths per year in Africa and some of the highest reported malaria transmission rates in the world. Around 16 million cases were reported in 2013 and over 10,500 deaths annually.
What Malaria Victims Say;
Robinah Nalubaale lives in Mulago. She was diagnosed with malaria a year ago. Before the unfortunate encounter, she hesitated to sleep under a mosquito net every night.
According to her, mosquito nets were old-fashioned and are mainly used by young children and the elderly because of their susceptibility to disease.
However, that myth proved fatal when she, a 19-year-old energetic girl, contracted malaria and was sick for a good few weeks before finally giving in to get the tests done and treatment.
With the symptoms emerging, Nalubaale was still pushing out the possibility of malaria, which only made their encounter worse.
“I would feel so weak that I also had a very high temperature. I started throwing up and even had a runny stomach. I stayed in this condition for a month before receiving medical attention. I always had a fever and lost my appetite, ”she said.
Nalubaale decided to self-medicate to relieve the pain. “The signs were on and off, but kept repeating.”
She revealed that even when she did finally go to the hospital, it took her a while to begin necessary treatment because the cost of getting one was high.
“Getting malaria was challenging because besides being debilitated, it took me a long time to get treatment because there was no money. At least Shs 70,000 was spent on the entire treatment, ”she said.
“I finally started my treatment, I was given injections of serious medication and some tablets,” she added.
She showed that after a week of treatment, she got some relief as some of the symptoms gradually disappeared.
“After a week, I felt a lot better. However, I had to continue treatment as I still had a bit of a fever, ”said Nalubaale.
She admitted that she was not sleeping in a mosquito net when she developed a fever and was later advised to go to Nabweru Health Center III, where she purchased a free mosquito net.
“I’ve learned to sleep in a mosquito net and clean my homestead to remove anything that can attract mosquitoes that breed here,” she said.
Fight malaria by advocating sleeping under mosquito nets
The government through the Ministry of Health has always and currently sensitized people to sleep under mosquito nets every night.
In addition, the ministry is distributing free long-life insecticide nets to the population as part of the “under the net” campaign.
Seriously, pregnant women have been encouraged to sleep under treated mosquito nets to minimize the adverse effects of malaria on unborn and newborn babies.
A Lancet study of child and adolescent health shows that malaria infection during pregnancy and delivery is linked to 200,000 stillbirths per year in sub-Saharan Africa.
It also shows that up to 100,000 infant deaths each year in Africa are due to low birth weight caused by the mother becoming infected with the deadly Plasmodium falciparum during pregnancy.