The United Methodist Church in Sag Harbor recently announced that they have raised roughly $20,000 to battle malaria in Africa. The money that is raised willl go towards malaria treatment, education and prevention. One way that the money will be used is that nets will be purchased to prevent mosquitos from biting people at night, which can cause the disease.
I have some thoughts on malaria after visiting Tanzania last year and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. I’m no expert but if there is one thing that I know for sure it is this; a lot of us are misguided on what really causes malaria on a grand scale in Africa, and a big part of me feels that it is deliberate.
My understanding of malaria before I went to Africa was that it was a disease that is caused by mosquito bites, much like West Nile here. My thinking was that it’s one of those unavoidable diseases in exotic countries in Africa and has to do with the climate and the physical location. In my mind, what caused malaria most of the time was mosquito bites and drinking infected water was secondary. After all, who in their right mind would intentionally drink untreated water?
When you learn about malaria, there is a big focus on avoiding mosquitos and drinking only bottled water. If you accidentally get malaria, it’s curable if you have the right medication, which is apparently cheap. It seems simple enough to avoid. So I kept on wondering to myself why the hell is everyone getting malaria in Africa before I traveled there.
Well when I got there, I found out. The problem in Africa is not that there are mosquitos biting people everywhere, it’s not for a lack of water natural water supplies (Africa is loaded with natural resources) and it’s not because people aren’t sleeping under nets at night. Without question, the main reason that Africa has a malaria problem is because there is no water infrastructure whatsoever, and in my opinion, it is quietly, but deliberately made next to impossible to build a functioning water infrastructure at any level, whether it’s local or state by nearly any authority there. Why on earth would this not be the focus of charities battling malaria? Some do, but most focus on nets and medicine. That’s not what solved the malaria problem here by the way.
There’s a reason malaria why malaria has been nearly COMPLETELY eradicated in America, and it’s because of water infrastructure. And it’s just not a difficult thing to do. I would argue it’s easier than producing malaria medicine for Africa. People have sinks on every continent in the world except for Africa. Why is that? I just don’t get it.
Tanzania has roads, Tanzania has electricity, Tanzania has huge hospitals (largely charity funded), modern structures, modern laws, gas stations, cars, and natural resources galore. But try and get somebody to build a reliable water supply where locals don’t have to walk down to a stream with a bucket on their head and then use that water to wash themselves and cook with, everybody stands around and scratches their heads.
How can it be possible that entire cities exist with electricity, vehicles, gasoline, water and soda bottling factories and asphalt roads, but clean drinking water is a big mystery to everyone. How can that be?
I can’t help but think that there is an effort to deliberately make clean water seem complex and difficult and too expensive. Because simply put, it’s a matter of laying down some pipes and reservoirs. I just don’t get how we can figure out a way to raise literally MILLIONS of dollars to “battle” malaria over the course of decades, throw it Africa, and nobody has the sense to focus on what really causes Malaria there, which is untreated drinking water. Basic water infrastructure is was solved the malaria problem here, and it’s what will solve the malaria problem in Africa, but I bet you my hat that there are a lot of official organizations over there that do everything they can to keep that from happening. You know why.