A Little Experiment

10 Apr

Malaria is the number one cause of mortality for adults in Gondar. Yet, almost no one seems to think it’s an issue. To be sure, there is a season for it (right after the rains), but if the numbers are correct almost 57 out of 1000 adults and 34 out of 1000 children under five years old will contract the disease in this city next fall. For a city estimated to be about 320,000 people, that means a lot of malaria cases.

April 25th is World Malaria Day (Happy Birthday David!). Along with the plethora of other diseases plaguing Sub-Saharan Africa (see Peace Corps Health volunteers all over the continent), these awareness campaigns tend to get lost in the mire of public health announcements. So I decided to get personal with it. As an example for the people on my compound I conducted a little experiment.

Kids, don’t try this at home, unless you are taking malaria profylaxis. Mine is a weekly called methlyquine (the dream inducing kind—it’s groovy man).

Every night I sleep under a treated mosquito net provided by Peace Corps. Last night, I decided to stick out one of my legs. If you had asked me a week ago, I would have said there aren’t any mosquitoes in my house. I don’t hear them when I sleep, and because I sleep under the net I don’t get bit. Here are the results:

Out of the net - I count 14 bites just in the photo!

Out of the net – I count 14 bites just in the photo!

Under the net – No Bites! just a few freckles










These are not a model’s legs, no thanks to the angle of the photo, but let it be known I swathed on hydrocortisone cream for the next few days.

I don’t know if I changed any behaviors, but the next day after I poorly explained my “bimbee” bites to my compound mates, I saw a malaria net washed and drying out on the line. I’ll count that a success.

Net distributions are scheduled in towns every three years according the government health office. The next distribution in Gondar should be in about two years. If anything, I’m just going to keep asking about it. Malaria is one of those disease where if caught early it is easily treatable, if you don’t catch the fatal strain. But even more than treatment, prevention is simple—don’t get bit. And since malarial mosquitoes are most active at night, a bed net is one of the most effective and cheapest solutions.

My Bed Net - sometimes it feels like a princess canopy… if I pretend

My Bed Net – sometimes it feels like a princess canopy… if I pretend

2 Responses to “A Little Experiment”

  1. apronheadlilly April 10, 2013 at 9:22 pm #

    I just posted in “Healthy Alternatives” on my Pinterest an easy homemade mosquito catcher using a 2 L soda bottle. MIght help trap a few. If you are interested check it out or I can post here, too. Let me know.

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