Malaria-carrying mosquitoes pose deadly threat to children

Bed nets are critical tools for malaria prevention. World Vision and the government of Kenya aim to provide insecticide-treated bed nets to 111,100 households in the northern Rift Valley region of Kenya.

Story and photo by Kenneth Kibet, World Vision Kenya.
Published April 12, 2012 at 12:00am PDT

Elkana Ptiyos, an 8-month-old boy in Kenya, cries uncontrollably as he struggles to pull off an injection needle that is firmly fastened on his thin wrist.

His mother, Paulina Siwarengan, wrestles his right hand to keep Elkana from grabbing a loosely hanging tube. The cord stretches from his hand to a plastic bottle filled with medicine that flows through the tube, bringing life-saving relief to Elkana’s small body.

Much-needed treatments

“This is the third one since we came here two days ago,” says Paulina, her gaze fastened on the dripping liquid. “His condition has improved. The fever has come down, and he does not vomit as often as before.”

Elkana is among hundreds of children battling malaria at Chepkopegh dispensary in Kenya.

The room designed to hold 16 patients is overflowing with twice that number. The basic health facility is the only place that children like Elkana are treated in this area. Two children share almost every narrow bed.

A deadly threat to children

Every 60 seconds, malaria kills a child.

In Africa, about 600,000 people die every year from the disease, accounting for 90 percent of all global deaths from malaria. In 2010, more than 4.5 million cases of malaria were reported in Kenya alone.

“Ours is more of a calling to serve the community than a mere occupation,” says Collins Chamer, the nurse in charge at the dispensary. “We work day and night,” he continues. “We do not have any weekends or holidays.”

Each day, 50 to 60 new patients arrive at the health center. About 70 percent are malaria patients, and many are already desperately ill when they get there.

The district only has 15 health facilities spread across an area of nearly 5,600 square miles. “Because of the long distances, most cases are first wished away, only to be brought here when they are at emergency stage,” says Chamer.

Bed nets provide crucial protection

World Vision and the government of Kenya are partnering to distribute 284,200 treated bed nets in the northern Rift Valley region. This bed net recipient carries several nets on her head.According to Dr. Gilbert Munie, the district health officer, malaria remains the leading cause of illness and death in the area.

“Most people live along the river areas where mosquitoes breed, and because they do not sleep under a mosquito net, they get exposed to malaria infection,” Dr. Munie explains.

World Vision, in partnership with the government of Kenya, is distributing 284,200 treated bed nets. The project aims to reach universal coverage of bed nets and improve usage through advocacy, communication, and social mobilization. Its target is to reach about 111,100 households in the northern Rift Valley region of Kenya.

Learn more

April 25 is World Malaria Day. Visit World Vision’s End Malaria site to learn more about this deadly but preventable disease — and how you can help stop it.

Read more stories and articles about malaria on the World Vision Blog.

Four ways you can help

Please pray for children and families vulnerable to malaria. Pray that the would gain the tools they need to prevent this potentially deadly disease.

Make a one-time gift to help provide a family with insecticide-treated bed nets. This inexpensive intervention can last for several years, providing vulnerable children with a shield against malaria-carrying mosquitoes while they sleep.

Give monthly to help us fight malaria around the world. Tragically, this disease still devastates communities and perpetuates the cycle of poverty, even though it’s entirely preventable. Your monthly contribution will help our efforts to stop malaria for good.

Host a Malaria Sunday at your church. You can join with your congregation to make a difference in the global fight against deadly malaria.