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By Foot, Bike, Car, or Canoe: Patient and Staff Stories of Malaria in DRC
“My name is Zamukunda. I tested positive for malaria at the health center. This morning I delivered my first child, a boy who weighed 1.6 kg [3.5 pounds]. My labor began very late last night, which was a surprise because I was still far from my delivery date. I was in a lot of pain and was bleeding, which made me worry, so I left the house with my mother and we walked for two hours to reach this health center.
My baby was born at two in the morning. He was not breathing very well and I was continuing to bleed so MSF decided to transfer us in their car from Kashuga to the main hospital in Mweso. We picked up another woman and her child who was very sick with malaria. The trip took only an hour since there has not been much rain. Now I am in the intensive care unit at the hospital with my baby, who is on oxygen. So far we are doing okay.”
Zamukunda’s son was born at seven months. She did not know how malaria would affect her pregnancy or her baby. The high fevers caused by the disease can provoke contractions and lead to premature delivery. Zamukunda and her son are receiving treatment at MSF’s Mweso hospital.
Photo: DRC 2012 © Sandra Smiley Patients receiving malaria treatment in an MSF-supported hospital in Katanga province.