Thursday, October 25, 2012

the decline of child mortality

Djida, my littlest host sister, should probably be dead.  the fact that she is not is a demonstration of why the child mortality rate in Africa is declining.  Djida is probably about 4.  she is usually this precocious combination of peppy and serious.  she’s started carrying little basins on her head like her mom.  when I cleaned out my house a while back, I tossed out this half pagne that was collecting dust.  Djida took it and wraps herself up in it like her older sisters.  The only french she knows its “merci” which she gravely says every time I give her something.  

Djida gets seriously sick every 4-5 months or so, like most people around me.  They get malaria and spend several days laying around.  With Djida though, its sometimes different.  I don’t know if its her immune system or a perfect storm of malnutrition and malaria, but she gets really sick.  This happened earlier this week.  High fever, no appetite, lethargic. Djida didn’t have the energy to brush flies away.  last night I’m pretty sure I could see every bone in her torso.  being able to count every rib above a distended belly messes with my mind.  

Petite took her to the local clinic a couple days ago, and they said to take her to the hospital in kouka for tests.  He came back with a sack of vials and medicines.  From what I see, Djida has malaria, intestinal parasites, and anemia, and some other stuff that I couldn’t figure out.  I looked at her health booklet.  Petite paid over 5 mille for just her medicines alone, not counting the examination and test fees.  They have to take her to the clinic every day for like a week for a shot.  But she was out and about this morning, so I think she’s getting better.  I was really worried about her for a couple of days. 

Last year Djida got so sick that they had to take her down to Sokode for a blood transfusion. Just that alone cost something like 20 mille.  Petite is a fairly well to do farmer and he manages his household finances well enough that he has enough money to pay for his childrens’ medical bills.  Thanks to the Catholics, there is a good rural clinic in Nampoch.  One can get decent (i.e. life-saving) medical treatment in Kouka, plus the medicines to treat the most common problems.  Cheaply.  I hear of enough children dying in Nampoch to know that not everyone has the money or the wherewithal to take their kids to the doctor.  5 mille ($10) is a decent amount of money to a farmer, let alone 20 mille.  The cost of a pizza could mean life or death for a child here.  

Peanut season is over.  This makes me sad.  

Rainy season is almost over, much to the joy of my farmer friends.  They’ve had too much rain here this year.  Peanut, bean, and corn yields are down because of it.  Now, since it is starting to flower, any heavy rain will damage cotton yields as well.  

I find myself reading Russian authors in bunches.  I just re-read The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand interspersed with Emma Goldman’s Anarchism and other essays.  Super pumped about that election now.  Sadly, my status as a (technically) US government employee means that I cant really talk about how pumped I am.  

I suppose I can go this far though.  It is kind of tiring reading stuff from the US about the current election with regards to the reaction against the “Washington establishment.”  Many people in the US seem to vote for candidates simply based on the fact that these candidates are not career politicians, or are somehow removed from Washington. These voters vote for amateurs, not professional politicians.  Um, really?  In what other profession, except college sports, would you want an amateur over a professional?  Amateur plumber—your house floods. Amateur electrician—it burns down. Amateur carpenter—it falls down.  Etc.  Look at the “debt crisis” of last year to see what amateur politicians do.  Professionals do their jobs well. They keep things running.  Policy change with a gargantuan, entrenched bureaucracy is a different story.  But professional politicians, in my life time at least, have made sure that I, when I’m in the States anyway, enjoy roughly the same quality of life as I always have.  The price of this quality of life, and even its morality, is, of course, another discussion.  But “those people” in Washington keep the lights on.  Regardless of the party.  This probably says something about the two party system, but thats another discussion too.

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