THE BLOG

I Will Work Until the Last Person Contracts Malaria

29/04/2016 10:38

When my youngest child Gloria was four she got a severe form of malaria.

The doctor gave her treatment but her temperature didn't go down and she started to get jaundice. She was very ill and spent five days in the health clinic on a drip. Now she's nine and very healthy, but that was a scary time for my family.

I have also had malaria, but because I have worked in the health department in the Government since 1998 I can recognise the symptoms. When I got a fever I went to the nearest health centre. I took tablets for three days and I was ok.

Around the same time that Gloria was unwell, in 2011, I started working with Malaria Consortium in Mbale district in east Uganda to tackle the malaria issue.

I was passionate and motivated to stop this issue of malaria. At that time malaria was one of the commonest causes of death for children under five in Mbale district. My daughter Gloria was almost one of those children. At that time in 2011 if you went to the hospital you would find that half of the patients in the ward were malaria patients.

We visited the villages to talk to the community about why people are dying. It started with wanting to know what problems the community is facing.

We discovered one of the major issues was transportation of the patients from the community to the health centres.

One mother had a very sick child with severe malaria. Unfortunately this mother did not have any money to pay for transport to take her child to Mbale hospital. She had to sell her goat to pay for transport and drugs. Luckily her child recovered.

There was another sick child who was referred to hospital. The family had so little money to pay for transport that it took her a long time to reach the hospital, where she unfortunately died.

To help we launched motorcycle taxis , locally called 'boda-boda's, to take sick children from villages to health centres.

We also discovered that people lacked knowledge about where to seek healthcare and when to seek healthcare. When Gloria got ill I had the skills and knowledge about the management of malaria to get the help we needed.

Since 2011 we have trained 184 health workers in health facilities in the management of severe forms of malaria and trained them how to test for malaria.

We have also created village health teams and have trained 748 people who can diagnose and treat malaria. They can be called by their neighbours at night. They are relied and trusted people in the community. They can monitor and diagnose these issues. And they are working more and more on malaria and issues of mosquito net use. They have created awareness about the causes of malaria and how to get to the nearest health centre.

In May 2015 there were reduced cases of malaria incidents. People are taking anti-malarial drugs. Communities are preventing malaria, using nets. So there are fewer cases than there used to be. It is very wonderful as we don't want to want to go back to the number of deaths we had

I need to make sure that the communities have a good health system. That all the people can reach the health facilities in less than four hours. I also want the drugs in the communities to be easily accessible so I can offer the best care.

I will work until the last person contracts malaria.

For more information on the fight against malaria, visit ComicRelief.com

Mother-of-three Agnes Masagwayi, 40, knows from personal experience how devastating malaria can be after her own daughter was bitten by an infected mosquito. Determined to prevent other families from a going through the same ordeal, Agnes has dedicated her life to combating malaria by helping to improve conditions in hospitals and clinics with Malaria Consortium, a project funded by Comic Relief

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