A severe malaria case in Burundi

"I was scared for my son. When we arrived at the hospital, he was very weak and he couldn't talk," explains the mother of a three and an half year old boy with severe malaria.

In the middle of Kynyinya's hospital, located in the north-eastern part of Burundi, Niyomwungere is lying on his bed. His mother has been looking after him for a couple of days. Her son has severe malaria.

"My son started to have abdominal pains, and blood in his urine," she said. "He was weak. I went to a health centre where people gave him drugs. But the next morning, there was more blood in his urine, so I went back to the health centre."

As the doctor asks her what kind of drugs she received at the health centre, the mother describes white and yellows tablets, which correspond with the colour of ACT's (Artemisinin Combination Therapy), the official first line treatment for malaria in Burundi. Niyomwungere's mother also explains that they did a paracheck, the rapid diagnostic test for malaria, and that the result was positive.

But as Niyomwungere's condition kept getting worse, his mother decided to go to Kynyinya's hospital, supported by MSF. Since last year, children under five and pregnant women have received free health care in health centres and hospitals in Burundi.

"I live 60 km from here and I had to rent a car with a driver to arrive here," she said. "This has cost a lot of money."

When the malaria was confirmed, the little boy received quinine, the official second line treatment for malaria in Burundi, mixed with glucose intravenously.

"I was scared for my son," said the mother. "When we arrived here, he was very weak and couldn't speak anymore. He was vomiting as well."

Niyomwungere has been at the hospital for three days, and he is getting better. He is not vomiting anymore and will be able to continue quinine in tablets to complete his seven days treatment.

"He already had malaria several times", explained the doctor. "But this is the first time he has had severe malaria."

Today, Niyomwungere's mother has faith again, and hopes to be allowed to return home soon with her child. As she had to come to the hospital, she had to leave her three older children, aged 13, 9 and 7 on their own.