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Malaria and Sub-Saharan Africa

Grade 7 | Informative | Source-Based

Source Lexile®: 1140L-1160L

Learning Standards





Prompt: Research the impact of malaria on sub-Saharan Africa. First, read the primary source, "Excerpts from Ms. Susan Lassen." Then, read an article titled "A Cautionary Tale: A Family's Ordeal with Malaria." Finally, view the video segment “Malaria.” After reading and viewing these sources, write an essay that explains how the people of Africa have been affected by malaria and what preventative measures have been put in place to control this infectious disease from spreading. Use evidence from each of the sources to provide details and support your ideas.





Source 1

Excerpts from Ms. Susan Lassen, NetsforLife Coordinator (Primary Source)


  1. This statement from NetsforLife explains how netting treated with insecticide has helped in the fight against malaria in sub-Saharan Africa.


  1. My name is Susan Lassen. I am a member of the Episcopal Church and consultant for Episcopal Relief and Development's program in malaria prevention: NetsforLife(SM). I am pleased to be joined by Dr. Robert W. Radtke, President of Episcopal Relief and Development which is the international relief and development agency of the Episcopal Church in the United States. An independent 501(c)(3) organization, ERD saves lives and builds hope in communities around the world. We provide emergency assistance in times of crisis and rebuild after disasters. We enable people to climb out of poverty by offering long-term solutions in the areas of food security and health care, including HIV/AIDS and malaria. As the global community develops new and innovative methods to control and prevent malaria, the challenge of distribution becomes absolutely critical. Known as the 'silent' killer, many of the one to three million deaths a year from malaria occur in hidden remote households out of sight and reach.


  1. NetsforLife (SM) is an inexpensive initiative to distribute one million long-lasting, insecticide-treated nets in sixteen countries in sub-Saharan Africa by the end of 2008. The program specializes in reaching isolated populations and was officially launched in Zambia exactly one year ago today...


  1. Two hundred and thirteen thousand long lasting insecticide treated nets have been distributed in Angola, Zambia, Kenya, Ghana, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Mozambique. A mother and her two children can be protected from malaria for five years for a total cost of approximately $12. However, NetsforLife(SM) is not only about distributing nets. Within this cost, monitoring evaluation, education, vector management, advocacy for drug access, and training around indoor residual spraying are included. We have been able to build malaria prevention into our current work in integrated community health programs. This year training and distribution are planned for Tanzania, Malawi, Liberia, Zimbabwe, and Madagascar...


  1. The 118 nets we distributed will protect probably 230 people from malaria for the next five years, but the cumulative effect will be much greater. I'll give you one example: Malita, a young mother, returned with her family to Angola from northern Namibia last year as peace and security seemed so hopeful. It was time to start cultivating the family farm. They had heard that vegetables were selling well in the market and the future was bright.


  1. Malita had two small children and was pregnant. She knew that "fever" came but she had no idea what caused it. She was inclined to believe her mother-in-law that it was “bad sugar cane.” When her eldest child—about three years old—started feeling feverish the week before, she was utterly powerless to save him. She told me with tears how quickly he had died, in her arms, in less than a day. I met Malita at about 7 o'clock in the evening; she had trekked all day with her mother-in-law and had waited for her net. Not only did she leave with the net, however, but she left with knowledge. She now knows about fever and what to do. She knows about the malaria mosquito; she knows that she and her child must sleep under the net, not just in the rainy season but every night. She knows about puddles, about keeping her compound clean, and about spraying. She knows about treatment with medicine, and she knows where to go for help. And, perhaps most important of all, she has become a community malaria volunteer. More nets are on their way to Ondjiva, and Malita will be ready. She has been trained in malaria prevention by the NetsforLife(SM) team so that she can educate, support, and teach her own village. She will make sure that mothers are protected, that the elderly and sick sleep every night under a net, and that those who need treatment will know where to go. She will make sure that all the medicine is swallowed.


  1. Malita's knowledge and experience will stay in Namakunde; it will steadily build the health, wellbeing, agricultural production, and economic vitality of this small community, on the border between Angola and Namibia. Refugees like Malita's family are returning to their old land to cultivate, plant, and resettle, and malaria is a sickness that they cannot afford.


  1. People like Malita are the hands and feet of NetsforLife(SM) across Africa and are demonstrating that with very small investment from countries like our own, the fight against malaria can be won.




  • vector: an organism, typically a biting insect or tick, that transmits a disease or parasite from one animal or plant to another


United States. Malaria Awareness Day: Leveraging Progress for Future Advances: Briefing and Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health of the Committee of Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, One Hundred Tenth Congress, first session, April 2007. Washington, DC: GPO, 2007.





Source 2

A Cautionary Tale: A Family's Ordeal with Malaria (Secondary Source)


  1. Fatai and Hanifat Adisa and their baby Mariam moved from Nigeria to the United States 10 years ago. Since then, their family had grown to five children, aged 2 to 11. They all lived in Indiana, where Mr. Adisa worked as a physical therapist.



Preparing for the Trip


  1. At the end of 2005, the entire family had an opportunity to visit Nigeria. To prepare her children for the trip, Mrs. Adisa consulted a pediatrician who prescribed antibiotics and drugs for pain and fever in case anyone should get sick.


  1. Mrs. Adisa also wanted to protect her children against malaria, a dangerous disease occurring in her native country. She asked the local health department about shots against malaria and was told, correctly, that there was no such malaria vaccine. The health department did tell her that there were pills that could be taken against malaria. However, Mrs. Adisa thought that the pills should be used only in case of sickness; she did not realize that in fact these pills could be taken to prevent malaria infection in the first place. So, the family left for their trip without the protection offered by drugs to prevent malaria (malaria chemoprophylaxis).



Visiting Nigeria


  1. Over several weeks in Nigeria, the Adisa family visited friends and relatives in many places: Lagos, Abuja, Kano, and Ilorin. The children loved it so much that some of them did not want to go back to the United States.



Illness develops


  1. The family returned to Indiana in late January 2006, and the four older children went back to school. However, two weeks later they began having fevers, headaches, and flu-like symptoms and were cranky. A couple of days later, the school called Mrs. Adisa to say that Mariam, her 11-year-old daughter, had severe headaches. Concerned, she took all five children to the local clinic.


  1. There the four older children were diagnosed with the flu, and Mariam was told that she also had a strep throat.


  1. They were treated with antibiotics and a drug for pain. Three days later Mrs. Adisa noticed that two of her sons, Ridhwan, 6, and Mohammad, 10, had yellow eyes, and another son, Mansour, 4, did not look well either. She took all three to the local hospital, where the doctors examined their blood and suspected malaria. They promptly transferred the boys to the University of Chicago Hospitals, a couple of hours away by ambulance, for more specialized diagnosis and treatment.



Confirmed: Malaria


  1. At the University of Chicago Hospitals, the doctors confirmed that all three boys had malaria due to Plasmodium falciparum, which can cause severe disease, even death. Ten-year-old Mohammad’s malaria had made him severely ill. His blood was too acidic (lactic acidosis) and had too little sugar (hypoglycemia). He was very anemic and also had episodes of low blood pressure.


  1. The doctors admitted Mohammad to the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) and connected him to a breathing machine. They administered intravenous fluids to correct Mohammad’s acidosis and hypoglycemia; drugs to correct his low blood pressure; extensive transfusions of blood and plasma to correct the damage caused by malaria; and intravenous drugs to destroy the malaria parasites.


  1. While Mansour and Ridhwan were not as critically ill as Mohammad, like him they had yellow eyes, a sign of jaundice associated with severe malaria. In addition, Mansour had a high parasite load; one out of every 20 of his red blood cells was infected by malaria parasites. The doctors admitted the two boys to the PICU, where they received intravenous treatment with antimalarial drugs and blood transfusions.


  1. To be on the safe side, the doctors also examined the blood of the other two children in the family and found that they too were infected with falciparum malaria. One day after their brothers, both girls, Mariam and Noorat, 2, were admitted to the general pediatric unit and treated with antimalarial pills.





  1. Most fortunately, all five Adisa children recovered from this extraordinary ordeal. After two days of intensive treatment, Mohammad was well enough for the doctors to disconnect him from the breathing machine. By day three, Mohammad, Mansour, and Ridhwan felt much better and were moved to the general unit. By the seventh day following their hospitalization, all five children had been discharged from the hospital, well recovered, and free of malaria.


  1. Their parents are very thankful for this happy outcome. They wish to share this cautionary tale to encourage travelers to areas where malaria transmission occurs to take the simple precautions that can prevent this dangerous disease.





  • anemic: a condition that develops when your blood lacks enough healthy red blood cells

  • intravenous: administration of fluids or medication into a vein by means of a needle


"A Cautionary Tale: A Family's Ordeal with Malaria." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 21 Sept. 2015. Web. 15 June 2017. <>.





Source 3

Malaria (Secondary Source)










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