18 July 2005

Sierra Leone: Face to Face With Malaria, Pneumonia


Freetown — My tiny frame of a human being lay extremely weak in the sickbed, some four days after I could no longer contain the severity of the acuteness of the malaria that had taken over my system. I had earlier lost concentration, my stamina could not hold me in balance and so I fell down like a piece of soaked log. I sustained a deep laceration in the face as a result and was later rushed to the Satellite Community Hospital on Kinghaman Road, Brookfields in the west of Freetown, where the wounds were stitched by Doctor Sesay.

Few days later I was taken back to my home, and I had begun responding to treatment dispensed by a private nurse who works at the 34 Military Hospital, Wilberforce, and I was at this moment gradually recuperating from the writhing one endures when left at the mercy of malaria, anemia and pneumonia. But something was still bothering me. Yes, how could malaria, a common feverish condition caused by a slightly breeze-assisted-flying anopheles mosquito an ordinary scrounging parasite throw a whole human frame to dereliction. Guess what, I almost equally forgot that the man who was knocked down by probably a single mosquito bite is also a tiny man who could definitely not contain what accompanies such malarial attacks.

Four days gone in my sickbed and I could still not marshal the bits of fists and strength in me to make encouraging physical moves. My silhouetted body created an unsightly spectacle for relatives, friends and loved ones who were almost running out of patience, pressed by the uncontrollable and personate wish to see me up again. I realized this, and at some point pretended I was feeling better but each attempt to sit down on my own woefully betrayed this feign.

Very ashamed of my self apparently due to the pace of weakness that had treacherously seized me, I kept a fixed face and intermittently, though in an incredibly shaky and coarse tone, told my somewhat flagging sympathizers that I was getting better. I have always imagined someone sick with malaria and anemic or pneumonia, but have definitely not experienced its almost fatal wrath all my life. How I wish I could just stand up right now and walk away out of this dreaded and retched state. I muttered to myself. Even as I overstretched the agility of the weaker muscles in my eyelids, tears escaped and ran through my checks as despair struggled to suppress the remaining of faith in this poor sinner.

Apparently I was gradually surrendering to my fate; that mere atom of temptation. Yes that nuance of a persecution from an ordinary breakdown of one's health status - malaria for that matter. But I had this feeling that malaria is one of the world's largest fatal diseases though treatable, particularly in sub-Sahara Africa. Could this be an appropriate point, suffice to justify my premature despondence? I think that could be better understood in my subsequent testimonies of Allah's timely intervention to rid his servant from the devouring claws of malaria and pneumonia.

As a columnist, I must confess, I have given little time to investigating and writing on the devastating tendencies of treatable diseases like malaria, typhoid fever and pneumonia. Like most renowned and veteran writers, I have engaged all my precious bouts to investigating and writing on the grievousness of HIV/AIDS and Lasser fever, both of which I have written extensively about. Sometime last year, I have blamed government for blowing the spread of AIDs out of proportion. I had substantiated arguments citing instances where government, including ours in Sierra Leone, have resorted to cataloguing incredible data facts on the prevalence rate and mode of infection simply because the American government have deposited a marmot amount of fund for HIV/AIDs projects.

In fact in Sierra Leone the president's office is situated in the National AIDs Secretariat (NAS) at King Harman Road, accentuating the fact that HIV/AIDs projects attract more funds for government as compared to the meager amount given, sometimes very reluctantly, in the implementation of Role Back Malaria programmes and Expanded Programmes of Immunizations (EPIs). As a result, malaria keeps killing people from the rear while the insatiable and violent urge to soliciting HIV/AIDs funding keep forcing our governments into physically begging from their counterparts in almost all diplomatic and development focused summits each time they grab one such opportunity.

Malaria must be taken for granted as cases of death toll associated with it is undoubtedly incredible.

Fighting HIV/AIDS only without juxtaposing the concerted efforts of combating malaria would mean pouring water on the back of a duck or beating a dead horse.

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