Saturday, March 29, 2008

mosquito netting

I take my anti-malarial pill every morning and so it doesn’t matter that much, but I still pull the mosquito netting down around my bed every night. Amazing stuff, mosquito netting, as I finally realized the other night that the buzz-buzz was coming from outside of the netting and not in my ear. Mosquito netting! Small enough to keep out mosquitoes! What a beautiful thing!

As a donor to “Nothing but Nets,” a charity that provides mosquito netting to Africa, I was enlightened by this mixed review of mosquito netting—at least as a single solution to the malaria situation here in Uganda. I read the following article by Dr. Dick Stockley (whoever he may be) in “The Eye” magazine, a bimonthly publication for tourists. (You can find it online at .)

“And now some philosophy. If something works most of the time, but isn’t 100%, is it a good option? The Pakwatch school boy gets bitten every night by 3 or 4 infected mosquitoes, so he always has malaria. This makes him immune, so he may be a bit tired most of the time, and he gets a clinical attack of malaria every now and again when he gets a cold or bad diarrhea due to lowering his immune threshold. Preventing malaria will probably make him healthier, cleverer, and bigger, and has been shown that he is less likely to die from pneumonia and diarrhea as getting rid of his malaria strengthens his immune system. BUT…Now he sleeps under a net. So for a year or 2, or 3, he doesn’t get malaria and he is fitter, bigger and cleverer. Then the system fails. He gets up for a pee in the middle of the night and gets bitten for the first time in 3 years. His immunity has now waned. So he gets a really awful attack of malaria, and without treatment he is going to be like the non-immune mzungu, multi-organ failure and dead in 2 weeks. And as he doesn’t have immunity, or at least a lot less immunity than before, he needs full total treatment, not partial…Just a thought for the health planners—If we are serious about prevention, we had better do it properly or not at all.”

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