From the field

Other stories from the field

Home alone with malaria

By Teresa Eduarda Machai, Training and Communications Manager, Manhiça Health Research Center, Manhiça, Mozambique

Children in MozambiqueI first had malaria in 1998, and it struck my three sisters at the same time. When we contracted malaria, our mother was traveling, and we had stayed with our father (who needed to go to work all day). As a result, we stayed home alone.

When I had malaria, my father took me to the hospital, and I was prescribed an antimalarial. I started to take the medicine. I had no appetite at all, was vomiting, and felt weak and very tired. I remember that I couldn’t even lift a spoon to eat some soup—it felt too heavy, because I was so weak.

My sisters and I had to be the ones to prepare ourselves something to eat; we helped each other by getting water, preparing food, etc. There was one unforgettable incident while cooking: after putting the pan on the burner, we were so weak we went to the bedroom to lie down; all four of us fell asleep and what we were cooking burned. With the smell of the smoke, we lost our appetite even further.

I also liked to drink grape Fanta a lot, but for years afterward I didn’t want to lay eyes on a grape Fanta because I was no longer able to enjoy its original taste, and not just because it always reminded me of what happened during the episodes of malaria.

My sisters and I got better after two weeks (once all the sisters had contracted malaria one after another).

The most interesting thing about this period was that we all had relapses, as if malaria was there to stay. It was a very sad time that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. From that point on, I became very sensitive toward anyone suffering from an illness, particularly malaria, because I know what it is like to have malaria and because I have had consecutive episodes of malaria.

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Photo credit: PATH