The night sky has embraced the tiny African village in the same way a traditional wrap crowds out the night cold from around a woman’s body. The sounds of the villages long ago abated and everyone has retreated to their huts near the center of the village area. All is quiet now except for the sounds of a few insets that continue their cadence of sound across the landscape of the sub-Sahara. Unable to be seen by even the most alert eyes, a nondescript shadow crosses the landscape and approaches the door of one of the huts. For a moment there is no movement. It is as though she contemplates her next move. Or perhaps she listens to make sure there is no sound from within the walls of the hut. She enters the first room. Silent. Unseen. Deadly. At this hour everyone in the family is in a deep sleep and there is no warning or her deadly presence as she moves silently toward the room where the residents sleep. They had thought, only a few hours earlier, that they were safe inside their house. It is an illusion. Death creeps ever closer. The expert assassin hovers near the bed where the adults sleep. There is not a rustle or twitch from either of them as she turns her attention to the baby laying in the bed next to his mother. A boy. Eleven months of age. This innocent child will be her target. She moves in closer. No one in the house has detected her presence and there is nothing that will divert her from her intended purpose.
The female Anopheles mosquito lands so softly that human senses do not detect her touch on an exposed surface. The family maintains a deep sleep and are unaware of the deadly act that is about to occur. The thrust of her weapon is not felt, nor is there even a whimper from the small child. As she removes the hemoglobin in order to nourish the eggs she will soon hatch she injects a deadly amount of saliva into the surgical opening. She has released thousands of tiny single-celled parasites called plasmodia. Only one of them is all that is needed for the disease to begin its deadly work. By the time dawn breaks over the distant horizon she has retreated way from site and the tiny boy child will be alert and crying for his mother to feed him. The family will begin a new day never knowing a deadly disease is multiplying over and over in the liver of their child. The day is now inevitable when the casket maker will do his work and the village family will lose their youngest child, another victim of a disease most of the world simply ignores. In spite of this plague on the so much of the world’s population receiving little attention Bill Gates notes, “Deaths from malaria have doubled over the last 20 years,” Gates said during a teleconference call. “It’s a tragedy that the world has done so little to stop this disease that kills 2,000 African children every day,” Gates said. (Forbes.Com October 30, 2005.
It Threatens half the World’s Population in 106 Nations
While the world’s press continues to focus most of their attention on the HIV/Aids pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa, the plague of malaria is still the disease that is most rampant. At least a million people die of malaria in this region of the world each year, and most of them will be under 5 years of age.
A Million People Will Die From Malaria This Year
For the baby boy in the African village death is now inevitable. Malaria cells have duplicated themselves millions of times, and are now circulating throughout his body. They have already damaged his brain. It is too far to the tiny government hospital at the trading center and they have no medicine with which to help with the fever. They ran out two weeks ago. And even if they had the medicine the poor family could not afford the transport to get to the hospital for treatment. It is too late. The baby’s temperature has reached a point that survival is out of the question. His brain begins to swell and his body begins shutting down. The cells that deliver oxygen are too few to be able to accomplish their mission to sustain the vital organs of the body. The heart is struggling to beat, and the lungs cannot supply enough oxygen to continue the fight. Coma follows, then death. Another child has fallen victim to a disease the industrialized nations eradicated 50 years ago.
Each Day 3,000 Children Die of Malaria, One Every 30 Seconds