Hilarious email from some guy who didn’t like something I wrote [Haters]
I’m back in Cairo after a week in the western desert, and I found a beauty of an email in my inbox. Some guy thought I was a little too nonchalant in my “Why malaria wasn’t that bad” post. I’ve published his email and my response below, for your enjoyment.
His email [8/12/12]:
So I came across your blog post while trying to find out how long the after effects of malaria would last, because like you I also had the misfortune of experiencing malaria. Needless to say, your blog post struck quite a nerve with me.
I’m extremely glad that you didn’t think the cost of a $44 USD, hospital stay was wallet breaking, but I’d like you to put it in a little context. That amount is almost 10% of an average Ugandan’s annual income based on the country’s GDP per capita figures. The actual poverty line figure of $1.25 also reflects the reality of approximately 35% of the country’s population. Compound this with the fact that between 70 – 100,000 child deaths occur annually due to this disease, and I don’t really think it isn’t that bad.
I myself recognized the fact that I would most likely get malaria considering the fact that I wasn’t taking any anti-malarials, but I don’t think it isn’t that bad, and I never will. Before you continue to go on dismissing how horrible a disease it is because Westerners here for work or pleasure can afford the medication and treatment, I suggest you do a little research on the impact it’s having on this continent.
Now, I have to get back to work, and just a little food for thought.
And my response [8/21/12]:
This is hilarious. All of the righteous indignation.
The tone of your email leads me to believe that you’ve volunteered in Africa for a few weeks or months (or, if you were super committed, a few years) and felt good about the difference you’ve made. You probably went home and “raised awareness” about the horrible lives poor Africans have. You’re probably more grateful for all of the luxuries you have.
This is all very good and nice. The problem is that you’re rather misinformed. Not uninformed – your statistics are accurate and quite apropos – just misinformed. I’m sure you know that in places like Rwanda and Uganda, malaria is as common as a cold (The WHO reported an estimated 216,000,000 cases of malaria in the world in 2011; about 655,000 were deadly). People get it all the time, and it’s often received with some levity. People get malaria and still go to work or school. In Rwanda, I spent an afternoon playing basketball with a young man who had malaria (I won every time. He tried to blame it on the malaria, but really, I’m just a better player. I have a rather sneaky crossover and pretty sweet pump fake, and trust me, when my jumper gets going…..nevermind). Treatment for malaria, when not admitted to the hospital, is relatively cheap, even by the standards of all of the poor Africans you’ve spoken up for. On a side note, you should also know that the vast majority of the cost of my hospital stay ($44) came from being treated in a private room. Although that luxury might not be an option for most Ugandans, my treatment costs – medication, IV drip, the stuff that actually matters – came out to about $10 over a five-day period. In case you were wondering.
You know that many children die from malaria. But you seem to believe that this is because of malaria alone. You don’t seem to understand that many children die from malaria because a) they’re malnourished, preventing their bodies from effectively fighting the disease and developing some immunity against the most virulent strands of it and b) there’s a lack of education about, and access to, methods of prevention e.g. mosquito nets. The deadliness of malaria in Africa comes not just from the disease itself, but from the socioeconomic context around the disease. If you’re on a real crusade to educate people about malaria, and not just wasting time lecturing random bloggers, you should understand this. The cost of emergency medical treatment is only part of the problem. Nutrition, education, and medication go hand-in-hand when fighting the disease.
I don’t know if you just go around the web reading blog posts about Africa and then expressing outrage at their apparent nonchalance. But if you do, here’s a tip: know your audience. A quick Google search of my name would have revealed that I’m Nigerian-American. A 30 second scroll through my blog would have revealed that I’d just written a post about my grandmother, who lives in Lagos. In fact, almost my entire family lives in Lagos. Tons of malaria there. As a kid, I’d go to Nigeria during the summer, see my family, watch soccer, speak Yoruba very badly and get malaria. My dad nearly died from malaria as a teenager. That you’ve attempted to educate me about the seriousness of a disease that has struck me personally on a variety of fronts is laughable. Really. I literally laughed out loud when I read your email.
Lastly, maybe this all would have been cleared up if you’d have read the post a little more carefully. The title was “Why malaria wasn’t that bad,” and then I described a personal experience. Nowhere did I make any claims about the seriousness of malaria for other people. That would be stupid. And if you’d read the blog post even closer, you would have understood that malaria “wasn’t that bad” because of the unbelievable generosity of the people (several of them strangers) who sacrificed their time to look after me. Malaria the disease sucks, but I was comforted by all of the people who willed me to better health. That’s the whole point of the post.
Have a nice day.