If a list of the most debilitating diseases afflicting the African populace is to be made, malaria would also obviously feature on that list. Malaria is a deadly disease in most parts of Africa, and it causes serious disruption in the lives of people and how they operate, affecting their productivity too.
In trying to capture what malaria does to people, prominent Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie said that it leaves people "miserable, beyond miserable" when it strikes. This just speaks volumes of how lethal it can be, especially if it is not treated early enough. Besides this aura of despair it carries, malaria also causes stunted growth when its sufferers are malnourished.
So, basically, malaria is that evil you dread and try to evade at all costs. Of course, there are other diseases deadlier than malaria. Still, malaria causes millions of deaths across the continent.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was speaking in London last week during the Malaria Summit, where various issues pertaining malaria were raised. And, her insights were quite eye-opening. She described how it is like to have malaria.
"You're miserable. You're beyond miserable," she told Channel Four News in London during the summit. "People have different symptoms... when I was growing up we all knew how each person's malaria happened.
"Mine would start with my stomach, just this horrible feeling that I like to describe as anguish in my stomach, rumbling, aching, just horrible, then I would get a fever. And the thing about malaria is that it leaves you unable to do anything."
Adding to this, she said that malaria left her light-headed, weak and nauseous. One of her brothers suffered very painful aching in his joints and another's aching head felt twice its normal size.
These are probably some of the terrifying experiences that millions go through in Africa, just because of malaria. Malaria is something that must never be close to children, because children are the worst affected by malaria. Although with affordable treatment malaria can easily be mitigated, in children it is another story altogether it is a major cause of disease among young children across the world and the sixth leading cause of death among those under five.
Scientists from the United States, Britain and France are carrying out a research on the effects of malaria on children in Niger's Maradi region. These effects are the subject of a study published in the journal, Clinical Infectious Diseases.
A starting point for them with the study was first assuming that there s a two-way link between poor nutrition and the incidence of malaria: "Previous studies suggest malaria may increase the incidence and severity of malnutrition, while malnutrition may increase the risk of malaria infection," they said.
It was not as simple as they had surmised though. "We found that nutritional status was not associated with malaria incidence."
They did find an association between the simultaneous treatment of malaria and malnutrition and impaired growth in height among children. They also recorded a finding that children who are breast-fed were 33% less likely than others to be infected by malaria.
There's still need for more research in coming up with conclusive results so as to make better medicines in fighting malaria. People can't live miserable lives as was described by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Definitely not.