More than half the population of this country has malaria. But it seems nobody cares
Nearly 7 million people of Burundi, a tiny landlocked country of 11 million, have got malaria since January. But neither the government nor the international community seems to be much concerned.
Even though he was six years old, Darcy Irakoze, aka Kacaman, was a favourite of East African netizens. The comedian’s videos, shot in rural Gitega, east of Burundian commercial capital Bujumbura, attracted thousands of followers.
Although he lived in one of the poorest countries in the world, the boy had access to the internet and YouTube. But he did not have access to something crucial: medicine for malaria. And that proved deadly.
Darcy Irakoze, aka Kacaman | Credit: YouTube
Kacaman died on August 8 of malaria.
More than half the population of Burundi -- nearly 7 million of the 11 million people -- has got Malaria so far this year, says the World Health Organisation (WHO). The mosquito-spread disease has claimed 2545 lives since January.
Although the outbreak has become one of the deadliest in the world, not many seem to be paying attention.
Politics over lives?
The government, led by long-serving authoritarian President Pierre Nkurunziza has not even declared it an epidemic, despite the massive scale of the outbreak. In 2017, the government had declared an epidemic even when 1.8 million cases, and 1700 deaths, were reported.
But now elections are to be held next year. According to reports, the president – who has been in power since 2005 and whose term has been marred with allegations of human rights violations – thinks such a declaration will be perceived as a failure of his health policy, affecting the votes.
Although the UN’s office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has said that the epidemic had reached “epidemic” proportions, not much international support also seems to have been reaching the country.
In contrast, fight against Ebola in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (the disease has claimed 2169 lives since May last year), has attracted millions of dollars in funding from international donors.
Experts cite factors such as the expansion of rice fields, lack of an adequate number of insecticide-treated mosquito nets, hospitals and effective malaria medicines, and rising drug resistance among the reasons for the upsurge of cases.
The World Health Organisation has reportedly deployed experts to probe the exact reasons for the surge, including the possibility of mistakes in data collection. The government may declare an epidemic once the exercise is carried out, many expect.