Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Malaria, a mother's greatest fear


6-year-old Eta and her mother Deborah
© UNICEF Indonesia / 2013 / Rob Patmore
There is no worse feeling for a mother than to think that her child might die.Yet, in Sumba, one of Indonesia’s islands in East Nusa Tenggara, too many mothers have watched their children dying from malaria. Malaria is infected through mosquito bites which are endemic in the island.

Deborah knows too well about this feeling. Her daughter, Eta, had such a high fever one night that she was shaking. “I thought she was going to die,” Deborah recalled how horrible she felt that night.

Eta was taken to the nearest health centre where her blood was tested. It was confirmed that she caught malaria. And it was one of the worst kinds.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Being malaria-free will also benefit the tourism industry


I have really understood the issues related to malaria, says Mr. Thamrin Wata, the Culture and Tourism Officer of South Sulawesi province in Indonesia. “It is very important for my work to know about this disease, because it is crucial for us to protect our tourist destinations from malaria to make them more attractive for travellers. Before I joined this malaria working group, I thought that tourism is only related to sexually transmitted diseases and HIV infections. But now I have realized that malaria plays also a role.

A baby sleeps under a bed net in Selayar district
© UNICEF Indonesia / 2012 / Asri
Mr Thamrin Wata has been working in the Tourism Office of South Sulawesi province since 1990. During all this time, he never received clear information about malaria and so he did not consider malaria a serious disease one needs to be scared of.

In October 2012, Mr. Thamrin Wata attended a workshop about malaria in Makassar sponsored by UNICEF in collaboration with the Provincial Health Office South Sulawesi. In this workshop he learned that malaria is a dangerous disease, especially in children and pregnant women, if not correctly managed by health workers. It is also a problem for holiday destinations, because tourists, especially foreigners, are scared of malaria infections and prefer to travel to areas that are free from malaria. As this directly relates to his work for the Tourism Office of South Sulawesi, Mr. Thamrin Wata decided to become a member of the malaria working group.