WHEN I was about ten years old, I came down with malaria. The mere memory of it still makes my knees jiggle, and I can smell the acrid chloroquine pills which left a bitter after-taste that stayed with me for days and made my urine yellowy and stinky of medication.
I remember feeling sweaty and cold at the same time that I was not sure whether to cover myself with a blanket or jump in a tub full of ice-cold water. My appetite for food was next to nothing; no matter how much my mother tried to entice me to eat, I would simply throw up.
As an African child, I was very lucky to have survived though the memory of my illness still sends shockwaves up my spine. Unfortunately, the chloroquine pills that saved my life are not considered as effective across Africa anymore because the malaria parasite has become resistant. With each dose, the little pest has evolved, so to speak.
Malaria is a big killer on the continent. Of the 30 countries ranked as high-burden malaria countries in the world by WHO, 18 are in Africa. Continue reading
Like many young people growing up in Zimbabwe today, Linda Kuterera (not her real name) was forced to drop out of school because her mother could no longer afford the spiraling school fees.
Soon after she stopped going to school, Linda’s mother fell sick and had to be hospitalized.
“They told me to pay for my mother’s medication, and being the eldest in the family the responsibility fell on me. I hate what I am doing but I am forced to sleep with men so that I can raise money to pay for the hospital bills,” said Linda choking back tears.
Poverty has left many young girls and women with little choice but to sell their bodies in order to cope with the economic struggles and food shortages.
According to the Zimbabwe 2008 National Youth Shadow report, girls as young as 12 are being forced to sell their bodies to raise money for sustenance or just to get a day’s meals. Unfortunately, young Zimbabweans are often likely to be left out of HIV and AIDS programmes, adds report.
The report, which seeks to measure the country’s progress on the 2001 UNGASS Declaration on HIV and AIDS states that young people continue to be overlooked in the implementation of programmes. Continue reading