April 24, 2012
Today’s blog post is dedicated to World Malaria Month. Tomorrow is World Malaria Day, and to raise awareness about preventative measures, the trainees here painted a mural on the trano ny fokontany (town hall sort of) depicting what may happen if you do not use mosquito nets. Tomorrow, we will present the mural to the local authorities, as well as some journalists and others from Tana. We will also do a “Neem Cream” demonstration. This stuff is actually really cool, and if the plant is available in Miarinarivo I am totally going to make some, even though the highlands are a low malaria area.
Neem cream is a natural mosquito repellant, made by boiling the seeds, leaves, and stems of the neem plant to get the neem oil. You then add the boiled water with oil to soap shavings, ad cooking oil or any other kind of oil, and let it harden. The Malagasy love it because it makes their skin smooth because of the oil. The plant grows all over the island, and the process and ingredients are so simple that it is a great way to prevent malaria. I am hoping to make some in my town to bring back with me haha, I hate mosquitos.
Now, for those of you who are not exactly sure what malaria is, let me give you a run down. Malaria is a potentially fatal disease that is transmitted by a female of a certain mosquito species between dusk and dawn. She bites an infected person, and the disease stays in her salivary glands, infecting the next person she bites. There are several different types of malaria, but the fatal one then goes into your liver, lying dormant for around 10 days. Then, the disease begins infecting your blood cells, multiplying inside them and then causing them to burst and release toxins into your blood stream. This results in cyclical symptoms, such as fever and aches, while the disease builds up and then bursts over and over. Unchecked, vital organs begin to shut down, and eventually you die.
For those of you who are now wishing that I were not in a malaria-infested country, don’t worry. I take my meflaquine (malaria suppressant) every Friday and use my bed net religiously.
Less than two weeks until I move! Saturday, May 5th I will leave the training center for Tana, stay there for two days while we shop for supplies (and hopefully have Internet J), and then I am officially installed on Monday, May 7th!
Very exciting. Hope you all are well!