Malaria No More? A Woman's Journey to Fight an Insect
Last month, on April 25, 2013, the world observed the World Malaria day. Off course, this means that the media was showing movies, clips, documentaries about Malaria. One in particular stuck out to me, " Mary and Martha"- a film about two women, one from England and another from the States who lose their sons to Malaria while in South Africa. Three particular scenes struck out to me. The first one was of a mother fighting with congress to make Malaria a priority, and in one sentence summarizes the real struggle with Malaria- " How do you rage a war on an insect?" The second scene, much more personal, was of a young boy who was suffering from Malaria, and in the process of treatment had seizures, showing of the suffering that people, especially kids with Malaria go through. The third scene was of Mary and Martha, having accomplished their mission- carry large trucks full of mosquito nets and medicine for children in a remote town in South Africa.
As these scenes constantly replay in my head, I can't help but always revert to the second scene. You see, almost two years ago, I lost a brother to Malaria. I was in my comfortable home in New York City when I got the dreadful news, and up to today, 6AM on June 14th will always be one of those times I want to sleep through. For a long time, I could not sleep, I could see my brother at 13, ready to go to school, full of life, and ready for the challenges ahead, but it seems that on that morning, shortly after his 13th birthday, he gave in to Malaria. My mother, who was with him through out the entire episode, would tell me that my brother had seizures just before he died.
So as I watched the television screen during the movie, I saw not the boy (acting) but my brother. My first instinct was to turn the TV off, but the part of me that is trying to reconcile with this loss, was determined to see the end to this story. Would there really be a cure to Malaria? Would the women succeed?
The two other scenes have also been on my mind because I constantly struggle with the unknown, but sometimes what seems impossible. To realize that the two diseases that are central to Africa bear a woman's face, to see the and at times feel the hopelessness by women who face the realities of these diseases everyday- that still keeps me up at night.
Unlike Mary and Martha, neither I nor my mother took up the crusade against Malaria. You see, we have become jaded against the disease. There is a point in our lives where we have all had Malaria, and hospitalized, but we lived through it. So when one of our family members did not make it out of the hospital- that was a shock, and one that we for the most part live with everyday. I wonder then if I have betrayed my brother's memory by not crusading for greater funding and access of care for Malaria. I wonder if I should be doing more. And if I could, what would I do? If there is a cure, or possibly a better healthcare management for Malaria- do I owe it to my brother to find out? But maybe the most defeating of these questions, and the most hurtful- is the question of whether Malaria will really become a thing of history. Do we have what it takes to fight this insect, and manage our environment to see a day where we can say "Malaria No more?".......