A simple mosquito bite? Who worries about that? Certainly not me! After all, growing up I had many years of experience playing outdoors or at the beach without even thinking about insect repellent. But I’ve since learned that not everyone can take a simple mosquito bite as lightly. My nonchalant attitude was completely shattered, initially with a visit to Kenya a couple of years ago, and more recently by visits to Ethiopia and Haiti.
In Kenya, I witnessed a child so violently ill with little or no hope for recovery. There were no resources to treat his illness which was suspected to be malaria. All from a simple mosquito bite? Should I be concerned for myself or for others who I traveled with? No problem. We had taken protective and preventive measures like medications, protective clothing, repellent, bed nets, and adequate health care if needed once we returned home. So a simple mosquito bite – no problem. We were okay.
In Ethiopia and Haiti, we followed the same pattern – medications, bed nets, and the like. But all around us, the ravages of a simple mosquito bit were very real. As our guides constantly reminded us to use our repellent and our beds nets, I looked around at others who had no long sleeves or long pants, and some who had no clothes; I saw those would be sleeping on mud floors with no beds to put nets over even if they had them, and I knew that a simple mosquito bite was not that simple at all.
If we can prevent malaria for some, can we stop it for all? Yes, we can! Join the efforts of others in ending malaria on World Malaria Day, April 25, 2010.
Executive Minister Department of Compassion, Mercy, and Justice