Sixth former presents to APPMG on World Malaria Day

Megan Owen reads her letter to her local MP at Westminster.

“My name’s Megan, and I’m in the sixth form at Stafford Grammar School, after which I’m hoping to study medicine. A few weeks ago, I wrote a letter to Jeremy Lefroy, to add my voice to the Malaria No More campaign, and I’d like to thank him for inviting me here tonight.

When I was 11, my parents decided to move to Malawi for 5 years, with me, my sister and two brothers. Before we left, we each had about 13 injections to protect us against diseases like hepatitis, typhoid and rabies, but at the time, I couldn’t understand why there wasn’t an injection against malaria. Instead, we had to sleep under bed nets, spray ourselves with mosquito repellent and shut ourselves in our house every night before it got dark. We also took Larium once a week, as a prophylaxis, until my parents decided that it wasn’t healthy to take long-term, because of the side-effects. From then on, they took us to the Blantyre Malaria Project for a blood test, whenever we showed signs of a fever or headache. It was only a 5 minute drive away, and they would test our blood and give us the results within a few minutes.

However, despite all their efforts to protect the four of us, a couple of years ago, my brother contracted malaria, after a weekend at the lake. Luckily, he was fit, strong, and had access to a private hospital, where he was given life-saving treatment and fully recovered after a week. However, he’d had the highest level of malaria parasites in his blood by the time he was tested and admitted to hospital. If he hadn’t been treated so quickly, it could have been a very different story. 1,500 children die every day from malaria, even though it’s preventable.

I think the progress made against malaria in the last 10 years is amazing, and it’s great that the British government have committed to help halve malaria deaths by 2015. However, for our family, even a 75% success rate in preventing malaria wasn’t good enough, and until there’s a vaccine to totally eradicate this disease, there will always be at least one child who manages to slip through the net. And that child will be someone’s son or daughter, sister or brother.”