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TIPS ON MALARIA

  • HOW CAN MOSQUITOES BE CONTROLLED?

    Mosquitoes around the home can be reduced significantly by minimizing the amount of standing water available for mosquito breeding. Residents are urged to reduce standing water around the home in a variety of ways.

  • HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF FROM MOSQUITO-BORN DISEASES?

    The best way is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.This can be accomplished using personal protecting  while outdoors when mosquitoes are present. Treated bed nets should be used sleeping. Mosquito repellent should be used when outdoor.

  • WHO ARE AT RISK?


    Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of getting malaria. Pregnant women are particularly at risk of malaria. Children under 5 years are at high risk of malaria.
     

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Against all odds

By Bernard Okebe, Kenya

Journalism student at the Eldoret-based Moi University is ever ready and proud to narrate her case to encourage society to pay attention to the needs of malaria victims and people with disabilities.

Back in 1989, when she was just three years old, Diana Chebet Yatich, was attacked by severe Malaria which saw her moved from one health facility and practitioner to another after receiving an initial chloroquine injection. This marked the beginning of the total loss of her sight.

Determined to help their daughter, Diana’s parents visited some of the leading public and private Kenyan health facilities when her left-eye sight condition failed to improve as a result of the anti-malarial injection.

It was however a visit to a private medical Practitioner, Dr Kiptui Sang’, which revealed that the various chloroquine injections could have led to blindness as a result of damage on the optic nerve in the eye.

The eye specialist, says Diana, observed that it was late for the situation to be reversed as it was one year later after the initial injection.

 “My Parents say that I was given several injections of undiluted chloroquine as the Malaria was severe and I was not put on drip-water. Dr Kiptui Sang’ then concluded that could have caused the damage of the optic nerve hence the sight loss,” she narrates.

 Some research information reveal that Chloroquine can cause degeneration of optic nerve and it can also cause irreversible retinal damage, leading to degeneration, blind spots in vision, reduced colour vision, and blurred central vision.    

Despite all these challenges, the 26 year-old Kenyan lady has however refused to entertain societal norms associated with disabilities and instead became a strong advocate for Malaria eradication.

 Diana has continued to offer anti-malarial and motivational talks in various programmes and functions in her locality.

Though visually impaired, Diana has fought the challenges that would deter her from climbing the success ladder since she totally lost her sight at a tender age of four.

The lady from Baringo Central in the North Rift region is still not showing any signs of worry from doing obvious chores and operations.

After wading through her difficult past and rising to the University, the soft-spoken Diana has become a true motivator. She is a shining testimony and confirmation of the old adage that ‘Disability is not inability’.

 “Those who have not experienced Malaria cannot feel the damage and adverse effect this disease can have on society. We hope that priority is given to development of vaccines and effective anti-malarial drugs to prevent the many deaths and suffering caused by Malaria especially in Africa,” says Diana in an exclusive interview with Eyes on Malaria.

She deplores how in African societies, parents would rather hide children with disabilities than exposing them to the rest of the society. This she believes denies such children their fundamental rights like education and freedom of association.

Speaking with the writer at the hostel of the University’s main campus, Diana recalls with nostalgia the long way she has travelled in the academic realm.

One would expect that she obtained her primary and high school education from special institutions as in the case with majority of people with physical challenges.

This is however not the case as the fluently speaking lady went through formal schools together with the sighted learners at Menengai primary and Moi Girls High in Nakuru and Nairobi respectively. Interestingly, her classrooms at the integrated Menengai primary school were upstairs and she could move up and down the stairs with ease. 

Having done her high school national exams in the year 2004, she was admitted at Kenyatta University two years later to pursue a degree course in Human resource management. Even though she reported to Kenyatta University, her journey with the course did not however go on as the university only had facilities that favoured her colleagues in Education faculty, known for training teachers with visual impairment in the country.

Journalism

Five years down the line, Diana landed another degree course. This time round, it is Journalism at Moi University.

Even before she applied for it, Diana was quite aware of the challenges that go with the Journalism profession and affirmed her commitment to the task. She did not want to follow the trend where any blind student in post-secondary institution would be asked to take education and hence teaching as the obvious profession for people with visual impairment. 

“When I could not take up the first at Kenyatta, I had to apply for my other lovely profession of Journalism at Moi university and that is why I am here today to train as a journalist…probably the first visually impaired journalist in Kenya,” she says with a smile adding, “I can go to the field, conduct interviews, and present news as any other journalist.”.

One of the outstanding characters that you would easily notice in her is that she is welcoming, accommodating and social. I proved part of this aspect just with a knock on her door when I arrived for my interview appointment which had been facilitated by one of her close friends, Lydia Cherop, a teacher trainee at Moi University.

 “I have always been against the confinement that people with disabilities are given or give themselves. We are normal as any other person and as much as there are challenges we face as a group, we must strive to find our place in the society.

This can easily be achieved if we integrate with the rest,” says the staunch Catholic who starts her Sundays at the Sacred Heart Catholic cathedral in Eldoret.

Social aspect

Diana says she likes watching movies and football matches in her free time. Her three friends concurred and I wondered how this could be possible with a visually-impaired person like her.

Diana immediately asked Edna to pass a laptop computer to her so she could watch a movie with me. Following the movie from her computer fitted with screen reading soft-ware (screen-reader), Diana visualizes the goings-on and can vividly narrate and comments on the actions of the characters in the movie.

She explains, “I like going out dancing and partying with friends and when am tired I take a taxi home.

Of interest to me also is travelling and visiting natural places and the first thing I normally do when I board a public vehicle is to create a rapport with the conductor, driver and fellow passengers so ‘I can be with them as they show me’ new places as we travel”.                

The Social Science student however does not like people treating her differently. “I feel happy when people come to me to share and ask me questions instead of enquiring the same from my parents, friends, colleagues or any other person when I’m within reach. People with disabilities do not need sympathy, pity or different treatment to an extent that they are separated from the rest of the society,” she says.   

Diana believes that good counseling to parents helps a great deal in taking appropriate action for a child with disabilities. Her parents, Mr. Asha Yatich and Rachael Yatich, did not panic when she totally lost her sight and this she attributes to the good counseling and care of the parents after the medical doctors discovered that the  situation was as a result of the anti-Malarial ‘treatment’ she had received a year earlier in 1989.     

With a sharp voice, Diana recalls that she was fond of climbing trees with fellow children and this earned her parents’ wrath as she had lost her sight unlike her peers. Despite the falling, she did not however stop climbing trees, resulting in constant injuries.    

Diana’s case remains a living motivation and a reflection of a Swahili saying Kuteleza sio Kuanguka, literally translated as “slipping is not falling.”

She says the natural thing to do after a fall is to stand up and continue the journey with a better focus.

Editions: 
Ninth Edition