Friday, April 27, 2012

World Malaria Day

 World Malaria Day - April 25! (When they named it, did they consider it had the same initials as weapons of mass destruction? Oh, well.) No, I'm not blogging on the 25th - I spent the last two nights falling asleep while putting JB to sleep.
There were several days of events, leading up to the celebrations on the 25th. There was a forum on the 24th in which I and my USAID colleague Rama took part.
The mayor of the Dakar suburb that hosted gave an impressive talk reviewing the discovery of the parasite that causes malaria, the biology, the epidemiology, history of control efforts ... but by far the most impressive thing in the room was the size of the mosquitoes set on the table - you would have more problems than malaria if one of those got you!

World Malaria Day festivities were held in Pikine, a suburb of Dakar, on Wednesday morning... traditional musicians, children singing songs, scenes about malaria control acted out, Senegalese celebrities, the Minister of Health.

The NMCP had ordered fabric in honor of the day for everyone involved to have dresses made from - unfortunately, it arrived the day before. My strategy: find a video on YouTube about how to wrap a sari. I asked Ed if it looked like I was going to a toga party. His response: Wouldn't it be white if you were going to a toga party? :) Oh well, it was OK - but amazing all the women who had managed to get dresses made - some of them quite fancy! None of the tailors in Pikine must have slept the night before!
I was intrigued by some of the traditional musicians - I had never seen the groups of women who play these large painted gourds, providing base, and a very pretty rhythmic dance. Plus these beautiful dresses - I thought they made a striking picture!

A few troupes of actors performed sketches in Wolof about malaria control - the fellow in the picture below, who has just stripped is shirt off, starts off very hostile towards modern malaria prevention (the health worker trying to give his wife a bednet), and ends up contracting malaria and being carried off by the others. I could at least understand that much!

 The new Minister of Health overseeing the festivities.
Senegalese pop singer Pape Diouf appeared, talked about malaria, sang a number, and danced. leading a troupe of photographers and delighting the children and young women.

Senegalese traditional wrestling is the national sport, and professional wrestler Eumeu Sene also made an appearance, starting the women screaming even before he actually entered the grounds. It was as if Usher and Evander Holyfield had shown up to the same event. Unfortunately, blogger won't let me upload the movie of Eumeu Sene showing off for the crowd. :(

Anyway - it's all over - back to work!!

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