Malaria: The phone call that wasn’t

Malaria: The phone call that wasn’t | World Vision Blog

World Vision videographer Tom Costanza on a visit to Rwanda. (Photo: Lisa Berglund/World Vision)

Malaria hasn't existed in the United States since 1949 (CDC). But half the world's population remains at risk of this mosquito-borne disease (WHO).

This World Malaria Day, let's take a moment to see firsthand how awful this disease is … and the difference a simple bed net can make.


Do you remember a world without cell phones?

I distinctly remember our family not having one in 2002.

It’s why I didn’t know that my husband, Tom, was close to dying of malaria.

Tom works at World Vision like I do. We’re both reporters. I write and he uses a video camera to share stories of World Vision’s impact around the world.

On his first trip to Africa, Tom was traveling in Ghana. He’d taken malaria medicine, but was not sleeping under a mosquito net.

In this video. Tom explains what happened in grim detail—detail that embarrasses him, but it is simply the best description of malaria I’ve ever heard.

As malaria can stay in your bloodstream for 50 years, Tom continues to get malaria.

When he’s home and not traveling, we take him to the hospital and they hook him up to an IV. He shivers and sweats. It’s awful. It’s never as bad as that first time, but it serves as a reminder of how debilitating the disease can be.

If Tom had owned a cell phone in 2002, he could have called me to let me know what was happening to him in Ghana—how he was praying that death might take him because life with malaria was so unbearable.

He could have called me and I could have consoled him, encouraged him, and prayed for him.

Instead, he was alone in his suffering.

I’ve always felt bad that he went through that suffering without my knowledge—that our lack of a simple communications device prevented me from acting.

Malaria: The phone call that wasn’t | World Vision Blog
Videographer Tom Costanza filming in Rwanda. (Photo: 2013 Jon Warren/World Vision)


And yet on this day, World Malaria Day, a child is dying every minute.

That’s 1,300 children a day.

Before they die, they suffer as Tom did—sweating, shivering, vomiting, and expelling every fluid. They die semi-conscious. They die scared.

Today, I know what malaria does to people and how a treated mosquito net and community training can save lives.

It shouldn’t take a phone call to jar me into action.

Malaria is one of the deadliest diseases impacting children around the world, which is why World Vision has made the fight against malaria a top priority. Please join us in our efforts to prevent this deadly disease.

Thanks to grant funds, your gift today will multiply four times in impact to help prevent malaria in Africa, where 90 percent of malaria deaths occur. You’ll help provide life-saving interventions like insecticide-treated bed nets, medical care, malaria prevention education, and more!

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