While sitting in the Paicho Camp health clinic among a handful of pregnant women who were waiting to visit with the head nurse, I watched a young woman walk in nestling a baby in a pink blanket. The woman, Joyce, was 17 years old. Priscilla, her six-week-old baby, was born two months premature weighing just four pounds.
Priscilla was born in a refugee camp in northern Uganda, in a tiny room of a health clinic with no electricity. It was hard to ignore the thoughts of all the challenges Joyce and Priscilla would continue to face. I imagine keeping a premature baby healthy is challenging anywhere, but here in Paicho this must be particularly true.
Malaria accounts for nearly 50 percent of all clinic visits. When the anti-malaria treatments run out at the clinic, as they often do, families are left no choice but to hope for the best.
Priscilla is particularly vulnerable to malaria. We whispered this to one another as we sat across from Joyce and admired her strength. We had just delivered 100 bed nets to the Paicho clinic to be distributed to pregnant women and mothers with small children under the age of five — those most vulnerable to malaria. We sat in the small room and waited anxiously for Joyce to receive a net. We breathed a collective sigh of relief; we knew that this single, simple net meant Joyce had one less thing to worry about: her baby, her love, would now be protected from malaria.
Thanks to our incredible supporters we, along with our partners, have distributed millions of nets in the last three years. Our accomplishments are undoubtedly remarkable. Sometimes, though, it’s that one net that gets to a child like Priscilla that seems like the most important of all. Each net has that impact – I was just lucky enough to see this rescue firsthand.