Have you heard about the story of the aid worker who traveled in Africa? Why yes, that is pretty much every book about aid.
So you can excuse me for being a bit jaded when approaching Mark Weston’s book that recounts his travels with his wife to the West African countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau and Burkina Faso. Weston’s The Ringtone and the Drum opens in a way that makes the reader feel as if they are about to read a self-indulged account of his travels through some of the worst countries in the world. That initial impression was dead wrong.
The exposition section acted less as a set up and more like a series of information that Weston wanted to shed as quickly possible. Make no mistake about it, the book is about him. However his role is that of the storyteller who happens to be in the story, rather than the main character. Weston is the connective tissue of the stories of the people that he interacts with across the three countries. Continue reading →
Starting today, PATH, the World Health Organization and a host of other partners begin fanning out across Burkina Faso, then to Mali and Niger to launch a massive vaccination campaign initially targeting 20 million people with the broader aim — if it gets fully funded — of ending these epidemics in 22 more countries and erasing this stripe of death and destruction.
“When these major meningitis outbreaks occur in these communities, it’s terrifying and everyone just stays inside … they just shut down,” said Dr. Marc LaForce, director of the Meningitis Vaccine Project.
Meningitis can be caused by any number of things. The term simply means an inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, an inflammation that can kill, cause brain damage, deafen or otherwise disable. In Africa’s meningitis belt, LaForce explained, the cause is a particular bacteria known as meningococcal A.
Meningitis can occur anywhere, but not like in the meningitis belt, LaForce said. Continue reading →