Fighting malaria in Malawi

African Sisters Education Collaborative (ASEC)

SLDI alumna Sr. Grace Akpan, MMM administers malaria medicine to a patient at the St. Kizito Integrated Health Centre in Lilongwe, Malawi. From January-March 2018, the clinic recorded over 700 confirmed cases of malaria.

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As malaria continues to be a leading cause of death in African countries, Sr. Grace Akpan of Malawi spends her time helping those infected.

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Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of malaria.

80% of worldwide annual deaths from malaria occur in Africa. It is also a leading cause of death among children under 5 years of age.

Malaria is caused by being bitten by an infected female anopheles mosquito which introduces a parasitic protozoon into the blood stream. After an incubation period anywhere from 12 days to 10 months, the parasites multiply and destroy red blood cells.

Malaria can lead to:

  • Anemia
  • Renal failure
  • Unconsciousness
  • Convulsions
  • Death

As one of the poorest countries in the world, Malawi suffers from a disproportionate burden of infectious diseases, particularly malaria.

An alumna of ASEC’s Student Leadership Development Initiative (SLDI) program, Sr. Grace Akpan, MMM works for St. Kizito Integrated Health Centre at Mtsiliza in Lilongwe, Malawi.

Hospitals in Malawi have a difficult time dealing with the disease. Between the months of January to March, she says their clinic recorded over 709 confirmed cases of malaria.

She says that in most cases, people come to the clinic when their condition is at its worst and the clinic has no option but to respond immediately.

Luckily, her clinic has found the Artesunate injection to be a very effective treatment of Malaria.

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“’Agogo, Agogo, (Granny, Granny), Kuwawa, Kuwawa, (pain, pain)’ – This is a new song I have learnt from children each time I am giving them [a malaria] injection in our clinic.” -Sr. Grace Akpan, MMM

“’Agogo, Agogo, (Granny, Granny), Kuwawa, Kuwawa, (pain, pain)’ – This is a new song I have learnt from children each time I am giving them [a malaria] injection in our clinic.” -Sr. Grace Akpan, MMM

“’Agogo, Agogo, (Granny, Granny), Kuwawa, Kuwawa, (pain, pain)’ – This is a new song I have learnt from children each time I am giving them [a malaria] injection in our clinic,” says Sr. Grace.

Sr. Grace recounts the story of Remi, a 7 month old child with symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea, sunken eyes and high fever. Remi refused to eat and was severely dehydrated. After the lab investigation and confirming this case of Malaria, she was given 50% Dextrose and 3 doses of Artesunate according to her weight.

The following morning, Remi was smiling and playing. Her mother couldn’t stop thanking the sisters and staff for bringing her baby back to life.

It is extremely effective, but expensive at €1.90 ($2.22 USD) per bottle.

For a poor country like Malawi, treatment for Malaria is difficult to afford.

Sr. Grace says that so many people come to their clinic who are daily casual laborers receiving less than a euro a day.

“Most live in rented small ‘houses’ and pay over 20 euros per month, then their electricity, water, food […] school needs, cloths; then malaria strikes and where to get money to pay for treatment?”

It’s difficult for the hospital to support themselves during Malaria season, but Sr. Grace believes that through their service they will gain support from the community.

“But tomorrow is Monday, and you never know who God will inspire to help us this week.”

Help fight the malaria crisis in Malawi

Religious sisters like Sr. Grace are using their skills and knowledge to help those in need. You can help sisters like Sr. Grace get necessary training to handle diseases affecting their countries by donating to ASEC today.

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This article is addressing the following UN Sustainable Development Goal(s):

End poverty in all its forms everywhere Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

SLDI Alumna - Malawi  

Zoe Laporte

ASEC Web Content Intern - USA  

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