28 September 2000
"Having had an attack myself makes me realise how hideous malaria can be, even if it doesn't kill you. It reduces a grown man to a shivering wreck on a sweat-drenched mattress. And when people have repeated attacks they get a funny tinge to their eyes. They just waste away." - MSF field doctor, the Philippines In countries where malaria is endemic it usually is one of the five major causes of death in any emergency situation. The others are diarrhoea, malnutrition, measles and pneumonia. Each day, malaria kills some 3,000 children. In a single year it kills up to two million people. The tragedy of this is that malaria is treatable. If people had access to basic health care most of these deaths could be prevented. Unlike many other infectious diseases malaria is spreading. Deforestation, especially, creates new habitats for the Anopheles mosquito, which is the vector. Apart from the deaths and suffering it causes, malaria leads to economic and social hardship. Adults weakened by the parasite cannot properly work or tend their fields, or care for their children. Among refugee populations it may even render an otherwise desirable settlement site uninhabitable, forcing the refugees to move elsewhere.