Editor's note: This article was co-authored by Paul Driessen and Robert Novak.
Fina’s little body shook for hours with teeth-chattering chills. The next day her torment worsened, as nausea and vomiting continued even after there was nothing left in her stomach. Finally, her vomiting ebbed and chills turned to fever, drenching her body in sweat. Then more chills, fevers, nausea, convulsions, and constant, unbearable pain in every muscle, bone and joint.
She cried out, and tears mixed with sweat. But no one could help her. She had no money for doctors, medicines or a hospital room. She didn’t even have a mother or father to comfort her. All the orphanage school staff could do was caress her, pray and hope she’d get better – and wait for her to die.
And in agony that never stopped from the time the malaria first struck her down, Fina Nantume did die. So did 49 of her classmates, out of 500 students in the APEA Primary School for orphans in Kampala, Uganda, in 2005. Most of the survivors were also afflicted with malaria at least once that year. Some became permanently brain damaged. Others died in subsequent years.
Fina didn’t have to die. None of these spirited, beautiful young students had to die. None of them had to get malaria. The disease is preventable, treatable and curable.
Then why did they? Why does half the world’s population remain at risk of getting malaria? Why are some 250 million people infected annually – with 90% of the agonizing chills, fevers, nausea, brain damage and death occurring in sub-Saharan Africa?
It’s said malaria is a disease of poverty, and poor countries don’t have enough funds, doctors or medicines to treat the disease – or prevent it in the first place. True enough. But malaria is also, and much more so, a disease of callous, intransigent environmental extremism and wanton disregard for human life. A disease whose prevention is hampered, and actively thwarted, by pervasive opposition to mosquito-killing insecticides, and mosquito-repelling DDT.
Anti-pesticide activists say they support other interventions: education, “capacity building,” modern drugs and bednets. Indeed, international funding for malaria prevention and treatment has risen from perhaps $40 million in 1998 to almost $2 billion in 2010. Millions of women and children now sleep under insecticide-treated nets. Millions now get diagnosed quickly and receive decent care and medicines.
These anti-malaria programs “saved nearly 750,000 lives over the past ten years.” the World Health Organization enthusiastically asserts. “That represents an 18% reduction in child mortality, compared with 2000.” That’s wonderful news. But it’s not good enough.
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