Malaria medicines. Not the most interesting topic you might think. Practical, but dull. You’d be wrong.
Firstly, there’s larium. It has been linked to some nasty side-effects (right through from depression to suicidal ideation). On the other hand, a British Medical Journal report said this public scare put so many people off taking malarials all together, it actually led to an increase in cases of the disease. It is cheap. But a good friend of mine has had a particularly bad ride that she blames on the drug, so that’s out.
While travelling in South America a few years ago, I took proguanil and chloroquine, which seemed to work and certainly gave me great dreams. Unfortunately, the disease seems to be catching up and my doctor now says its best to go with something else.
Your best bet apparently is Malarone. I took it in Thailand a few months ago and it seemed to do the trick, bar a couple of days of feeling queasy at the start. And I certainly didn’t get malaria. But it’s not cheap. Five weeks worth? That’ll be £88 please.
Which does drive home a simple fact; you’re a rich white guy passing through a country whose people have lots of mosquitoes, but neither drugs nor money to buy them with. The World Health Organisation estimates 880,000 die worldwide from malaria each year, and over 3 billion are at risk. That’s half the global population. I live in the other half, in the English midlands, which doesn’t have malaria-carrying mossies, yet I have both the money and the drugs.
I know this isn’t a paticularly acute revelation, but it does me good to start thinking this way now, rather than blundering dumbly over to Papua New Guinea.
Oh, and the best way to round out your anti-mossie protection? A net. They’re cheap too. Which, if you’re interested, means they are something you can do to help those who can’t afford the medicine.