Photo credits: John-Michael Maas, Darby Communications; Nekoye Otsyula
14 Apr 2012
By Nekoye N. Otsyula MD, Medical Officer and Investigator on RTS,S Phase 3 trials, Communications Officer, KEMRI-WRP, Kombewa, Kenya

I have suffered from malaria both as a child and as an adult. The last time I had malaria was in 2008, one week after my return from Ghana, where I had a work-related meeting. It was a bit of a surprise to me because I had, by that time, lived in Kisumu for a couple of years, and Kisumu is located in Kenya’s malaria capital. More recently, though, I had to miss work for a week when my daughter, aged 2 years and 9 months, was admitted for treatment of malaria. Despite being a medical doctor, it was as harrowing for me as it would be for any other parent, as I had to abandon my ‘physician’ role and pick up the ‘distressed mom’ role. From either perspective, malaria is a dreadful disease.

Sunset over Lake Victoria

The day after malaria has been eradicated, I hope to sit around a bonfire with my friends, or maybe go camping on one of the beautiful islands on Lake Victoria, and trade stories about how I had to miss work because of that disease called malaria. The conversation will move on to how I worried over my little girl when she suffered that disease, and how disruptive that time was for my family. Then we will say ‘no more!’ and raise our glasses.

We will toast to the prospect of reduced maternal and childhood deaths, improved school attendance, improved chances that our children (in this part of Kenya) will go to college or learn a trade, and improved social and economic status. And then we will get up and work with our partners to tackle the next occupier of malaria’s previous throne.