There were ready antidotes to bouts of malaria whenever any of Rebecca Udo-Umana’s three children fall ill and this has been often. For Rebecca, it would mean the temporary abandonment of her tailoring business and a long and tedious trip into the bush to find the appropriate herb that would cure the illness.
Rebecca, a 32-year- old resident of Ebe Ikpi in Essiet Eket local government is not a stranger to malaria, it was a disease which has plagued her family for a long time, defying all the solution she threw at it.
“It was always a hard time for me,” She said, temporarily pausing the swinging of her sewing machine. All of her children suffered from malaria, but her youngest son, two-year-old Idongesit suffered most.
“My younger son was always afflicted with malaria, he was the most vulnerable in the house and I am always worried about him,” Rebecca related with displeasure in her voice.
But Rebecca was not alone in the belief in herbs as the one-stop cure for malaria, the majority of the people in Ebe Ikpi did. It was the traditional way which has survived for decades and had resisted civilization.
Anytime the herbs failed to cure them, I used to take the children to the church for prayers and we would leave everything in God’s hands. At the church, there would be vigorous prayers over the sick child for many hours. Sometimes, we receive instant miracles and the child would be fine
“But many times, the herbs don’t work,” she said and her first son, 13-year-old Simon nodded in agreement. When the herbs failed, she turned to her next resource: the church.
“Anytime the herbs failed to cure them, I used to take the children to the church for prayers and we would leave everything in God’s hands. At the church, there would be vigorous prayers over the sick child for many hours. Sometimes, we receive instant miracles and the child would be fine,” Rebecca said.
But in 2017, she met with the community volunteers from HC3 and CCSI working on the malaria prevention program who told her about the Long Lasting Insecticide Mosquito Net and going to the hospital for proper treatment.
“The hospital is very far from here, that is one of the reasons many people are discouraged from going there, but when I was told I could get the mosquito nets from there, I made the sacrifice to go there,” Rebecca said.
Her family has since made the habit of visiting the hospital not only when any member falls sick, but also for prompt medical treatment. “Of course, we now use the mosquito treated nets and the case of malaria has been reduced, drastically,” she said.