Written by Samantha O’Loughlin, Target Malaria

As I write, here in the UK we are in lockdown to try to stem a disease pandemic that is causing global suffering and deaths. We are all unsure about what the future holds.

Imagine a world where Covid-19 is endemic. Scientists are still struggling to develop an effective vaccine. Imagine if we all know we will have to take two or three weeks off work sick every year. We feel the familiar start of a fever and know that we are in for a rough few days - again. We hope that this time will not be worse; we won’t end up in hospital like our brother, or will never come home from hospital like our grandmother. Imagine that the health care system in your country cannot cope, and that there are not enough hospital beds to go around or doctors to treat you.

If you replace the words ‘Covid-19’ with ‘malaria’ in the paragraph above, this is the sad reality for most people living in sub-Saharan Africa. When I am working with my colleagues in Burkina Faso or Uganda it is common for someone to start looking unwell. ‘Don’t worry’ they say, ‘it is just malaria’. Usually, they stay home for a few days, but sometimes it develops into something far worse.