A Date With Malaria Part Three

Before I begin the final part of my experience with malaria in a West African nation on my own and thousands of miles away from my friends and family – oops, sorry too much there, I think it’s really important to remember that malaria is still a killer, despite the work that has gone into a vaccine. 90% of deaths from malaria occur in Africa, 627,000 approximately is the world-wide figure for deaths from malaria in 2012. (figures from the WHO – http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/malaria/en/)

malria 01

People in Africa rarely have any sort of health insurance, they don’t usually have access to the best in medicine. I spent another couple of delirious nights in Bobo Diolosso before deciding that I wasn’t getting any better, that swallowing was getting close to impossible, and that I needed out of Africa.

First though, I had to negotiate a bus trip of 6-7 hours back to the capital Ouagadougou, find a flight, book a flight and survive it back to Australia.

The bus journey was not a lot of fun. I ate a baguette and bananas on the way, feeling nauseous and anxious but it seemed to last forever. I met a couple I had seen at a restaurant in Bobo-Diolosso and chatted with them. They were American missionaries, and as a sometime atheist sometime agnostic, well, I was still very glad of the company.

Mosque in Ouagadougou

Mosque in Ouagadougou

I had been in email contact with my parents, and they had mentioned a clinic in Ouagadougou that was recommended on the American embassy website. And this couple also recommended being checked out there as I was really worried about my swallowing difficulties.

And so, I had made new friends on the bus journey and this clinic is where we went. I was expecting maybe to be there a few hours, they had kindly offered a bed in their house, but as it turned out, I was told I should stay there for a few nights. In the end, it was a full week.

I still had malaria in my system, this time with a positive diagnosis which I hadn’t received in Banfora, and they used quinine. They did blood tests and I went by ambulance to a clinic to get x-rays, as well as other tests. I had a secondary infection which was causing the pain whilst swallowing. Sleeping was hard, but people spoke English and I was so very well looked after, all taken care of by travel insurance.

Motorbikes in Ouagadougou.

Motorbikes in Ouagadougou.

Meals came from the restaurant next door so I could actually choose what I wanted for dinner, and after two days I was able to eat again which was nice. People visited me which was so lovely, and when I left I had a place to stay with a warm family. It was such a relief, I bought a ticket out on Air France and then from Paris to home by Emirates.

I left Burkina Faso back to 70-75% health I guess, and I had tests back in Australia too. It took a couple of months to get back on my feet and working. But somehow I made it – and in 2007 I was back in Burkina Faso completely the route through Mali and Senegal. It took a long time to get over, I must admit, 18 months. Strangely I didn’t feel particularly apprehensive when I went.

I also discovered that someone I had met when I had first arrived in Ouagadougou had died from malaria not that long after I had left Africa. Kinga Choszcz, also known as Kinga Freespirit died in June 2006, she was from Poland, she had written a book about her amazing travels and is still an inspiration to travellers today.

You can read a little about her – HERE.

Do take malaria seriously, because it IS a killer. I was extremely lucky to be honest, and very lucky in going back to Africa twice not to contract it again. People get malaria when travelling in Africa all the time, especially West Africa, and as for the people of Africa, it’s often just a part of life. When I returned to Mali, my guide through the Dogon Country had malaria and at night hooked himself up to a drip! He was okay… many people in Africa have had malaria so many times, their bodies are apparently somewhat resistant to malaria.

This is my story about my encounter with malaria. Thanks for reading.

My kindest of kind host in Ouagadougou tucks into some roast chicken.

My kindest of kind host in Ouagadougou tucks into some roast chicken.

PS. Oh the night I flew out I had a minor reaction to peanuts and when bussed to the plane I was speaking to off duty Air France hostesses who started telling me about a plane that was hijacked from Brazzaville and landed in the desert in Chad! (this was in response to my comment about how much security there was at Ouagadougou airport) So…. That’s how it ended!

8 comments

  • Glad that you managed to get back safely! 🙂

  • Shikha (whywasteannualleave)

    What a story! So glad to hear you recovered well but sad to hear about the traveller you met. Really important point you’ve raised as well about how much of a killer it is – I know the tablets aren’t a 100% guarantee but it’s so important for traveller’s to be astute in malarial regions and take all the precautions and preventive treatments recommended where available. You must have felt so unwell but glad that you were well looked after by people.

  • You will be excited to know that Dengue Fever has reappeared here.

  • Oh..what an experience! It is great that you share your malaria experience to others so travelers could learn from it…And it’s great that you recovered and return home safely!!

  • I’m glad to hear this had a happy(ish) ending! Malaria is certainly a serious issue. Good on your for making it back to Burkina Faso without hesitation!

    • LOL well I had a route/trip cut short and was determined to get to Mali and Senegal, and basically that was the only option available. But, it’s certainly an interesting and worthwhile country to visit on its own. IMO!

  • Thank you for sharing and for reinforcing the importance of malaria especially in West Africa. And for those areas to also be plagued with Ebola at the moment, it seems even more of an important issue that travellers need to remember to take utmost care in general about their health. Health issues should be taken seriously no matter where we travel because the consequences can be dire.
    On a lighter note, glad to finally got to read the ending of your malaria series & catching up on your posts!

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