Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: 'Malaria has no place in our world today'
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a critically acclaimed author and Chief Storyteller at the Kigali Summit on Malaria and NTDs and a powerful advocate for the malaria campaign.
"Malaria has been a frequent and terrible scourge in my life and in the lives of so many people. It doesn’t have to be. Malaria is preventable and has no place in our world today, shackling the health and futures of the next generation. I ask leaders at the Kigali Summit to please be bold and make zero malaria and neglected tropical diseases their legacy." - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Growing up in Nigeria, malaria was an inevitable part of life and death for Chimamanda and her family in their community. Speaking as our Narrator at the Malaria Summit in London 2018, Chimamanda recalls: "We knew malaria intimately. So intimately that we recognized the specific contours of its affliction. My malaria always came with an unbearable rumbling, aching feeling that I can only describe as an anguish in my stomach. It left me light-headed, weak, nauseous, helpless."
"Malaria is preventable and has no place in our world today, shackling the health and futures of the next generation."
Malaria remains one of the biggest preventable killers of young children in Africa, as well as being a big cause of school absenteeism. This is an issue close to Chimamanda’s heart as she missed out on parts of her own education due to illness caused by malaria. Chimamanda remembers: "Each time I had malaria, I didn’t go to school. Once, in Class 2, at the age of 13, I had a very bad case of malaria that made me miss a whole week of school. My friends came to visit bearing cards, as though on pilgrimage, and when I finally went back to school, I felt left out, bereft, because so much had passed me by."
Pregnant women are especially vulnerable to the effects of malaria with one in three expectant mothers suffering from malaria in Africa. Like countless parents, Chimamanda has worried about the health of her own young daughter in areas where there is high risk of catching malaria. "There is much from my childhood that I would like my daughter to also have - the outdoor play, the sense of adventure. But I do not want her to be as intimately familiar with malaria as I was growing up. I do not want her to be familiar with getting injections of malaria medicine, as I was."
Chimamanda’s writing continues to shape our culture today inspiring hope and change locally and globally. Chimamanda envisages our world with zero malaria: "How wonderful it would be if children no longer missed school because of malaria, if workers no longer missed work, if people no longer wasted days and weeks in the lethargy of malaria. How wonderful it would be if Nigeria were a country where foreigners could travel to without first anxiously taking malaria prophylactics."
Chimamanda encourages bold action and belief in our mission to make zero malaria a reality: "This disease that we know can be conquered because it has been conquered in different parts of the world, is still killing so many people in the Commonwealth ... We have the science and the knowledge to beat malaria. It is doable. May we also have the will to do it."