Friday, December 15, 2017

Pills And Poverty

In talking to my students about mission trips, I mention the risks involved. The danger in most cases, while real, is minimal. Malaria is not a big deal in the US but it is in the rest of the world. Here is a look at the one of the world's biggest killers. This is from July 30, 2006.

I took my last malaria pills this morning: two per day spread out over four consecutive Sundays. The medication must be effective even though my niece, Meagan, picked up malaria, as well as a staph infection, on a mission trip to Africa several years back. Our group in Honduras was remarkably free from illness this summer. I don't think anyone had any problems at all. I've only felt bad once in Honduras- I thought I was going to die- but it passed within twenty-four hours. We are careful in how we approach life in a foreign country, especially in regards to drinking water. Many of us do have irregularities in our digestive patterns. In my case, I chalk it up to a change of diet more than anything else. At home, I eat oatmeal, raw fruits and vegetables, and yogurt. For our lunches in Honduras, I consume Pringles, Pop Tarts, trail mix, pudding cups, and peanut butter crackers, items I never touch in the States. People assume we lose weight on these missions but I have not found that to be true with me, primarily because of the high fat and sugar content of my snacks. I have developed a fondness for breakfasts of beans and tortillas, though!

I have a confession to make. Even though I have taken anti-malarial pills for several years, I had to go to a CDC (Center For Disease Control) website to learn specifics about the illness itself. I found out it is carried by mosquitoes and is largely preventable. I discovered that although it has been eradicated in the United States, malaria retains one of the highest mortality rates in the world. Highest concentrations of outbreaks are in developing nations with warm climates. It is estimated that there are 300-500 million cases of malaria per year worldwide, with children bearing the highest percentage of deaths. A child dies every thirty seconds from malaria somewhere in Africa. In the US, malaria is a non-factor. With our youngest, efforts focus on having kids wear helmets while bike riding or investigating the danger of aluminum baseball bats. Our wealth and climate combine to grant us immunity from the scourge; malaria is a hazard only when we leave our borders. Then, we take our pills.

I do need to make a slight retraction; we did have one Shine Mission mishap in southern Honduras last week. Katie McDonald, pictured above, stepped on a nail while involved in a construction project. The nail penetrated her running shoe and entered her foot. Her mother, Tammy, knew Katie's last tetanus shot had been within several years, removing any real danger to her daughter. Katie, a tough young lady, kept working until she developed swelling but she was back on the construction crew by the following morning. Her health was protected by a simple shot that is available to all Americans at a minimal cost. A very long time ago, the feet of Jesus were also pierced by a nail but it was no accident. The blood flowing from his feet nailed to the cross provides the perfect antidote to sin. It is effective on all continents, regardless of climate or prosperity level. It's available to all regardless of insurance or ability to pay. But unlike malaria, sin has not been eradicated from our shores. Maybe it's because sin is so much more fun than malaria.

Applicable quote of the day:
"Where malaria prospers most, human societies have prospered least."
Jeffrey D. Sachs, Columbia University

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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