Stories 4 Your Heart
Bed Nets Save Lives
Stories from Uganda
by Amy Schulz
Malaria accounts for more than a million deaths each year, of which over 80% occur in tropical Africa, where malaria is the leading cause of mortality in children under five years of age. Every minute, a child in Africa dies as a result of the disease which is preventable with bed nets. Aside from young children, pregnant women are among the most affected by this disease and it can prove fatal if the women are HIV positive.
In Uganda, Malaria remains leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the country. More than 95% of the nation is highly endemic while over 50% of population experiences high transmission levels of 50 or more infective mosquito bites per person per year. At altitudes above 1,800 meters localized outbreaks of malaria registered approximately every 2-3 years, Children under five years of age and pregnant women are most at the risk of serious illness, although it affects all levels of society.. Malaria has a wide ranging impact starting from health to social and economic issues and presents a considerable barrier to development.
According to the recent World Health Organization (WHO) report, Uganda has the world’s highest malaria incidence, with a rate of 478 cases per 1000 population per year. It’s the leading cause of sickness and death in Uganda and is responsible for 40% of all out-patients visits, 25% of all hospital admissions and 14% of all hospital deaths. In Uganda, the overall malaria specific mortality is estimated to be between 70,000 and 100,000 deaths annually, a death toll that far exceeds that of HIV/AIDS!
These staggering facts were took on a new urgency during a home stay with a family in Mabare, Uganda. Feather River College Enactus students stayed with families throughout the village as a cultural exchange. Advisor Amy Schulz and her daughter, Alicia, stayed with a family with six beautiful children all under 10 years, none were protected with mosquito nets. As a mother, it was unbearable to leave that family knowing the children were so exposed to malaria. Amy and Alicia immediately sponsored nets to protect the whole family, but they knew this was a much bigger than one family.
Upon returning to the U.S., the students decided to commit to fundraising and malaria awareness to protect the whole village. The students raised enough funds to purchase 450 nets. Each net can protect 3-5 people. They met the goal to protect the village of 2000 people. Upon their return in June 2014, there were already reports of significant reduction of rates of malaria in the village.