Sunday 16 October 2011


He cooked and cleaned at our Old Aged Home. He brought us chai when we had visitors and snacks when meetings went on late. He brought replacement gas bottles round to my house on his cycle. He wielded a extra long handled brush for cleaning the wings of ceiling fans. He was due to get married in December. A quite small man, physically lithe and full of energy and action, he was always on the go with big wide eyes and a constant smile.  He was 28.
My VSO colleague Gina was here on Tuesday and Wednesday this week to help us build our new web site. During our training session on Tuesday, something was not as normal, there was no chai that afternoon. I noticed it but then forgot about it until I came into the office early on the next day. Pralad had it seems gone down with fever on the Sunday, taken malarial medicine but had succumbed to coma and died at 4AM Wednesday morning.
Pralad had  worked at Shakti for over 7 years. Sadly I don’t have a picture – he was always there, behind the scenes, never in the photo! Pralad’s family come from a village only some 40miles from Rayagada. The vehicle wanted 4000 Rupees to transport his body back for burial. An exorbitant amount of money in local terms Shakti paid for this. There was a post mortem on Wednesday  morning and funeral arrangements had to be made. As per local tradition this happens very quickly. It was all over by Wednesday evening.
imageMalaria is endemic here in this part of Orissa. In the two years I have been here there have been regular instances of people getting malaria. Our field staffs are particularly prone, but office based staff have also succumbed. Everyone else has come through it. Pralad was unlucky he didn’t just get malaria caused by Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium ovale, and Plasmodium malariae , he caught the cerebral malaria form caused by Plasmodium falciparum  which is a horrid, swift, effective killer – fever, enlargement of spleen and liver, coughing up of blood, renal failure, brain damage, unrousable coma. Fatality rates are over 20%.
As a volunteer we all get mosquito nets and antimalarials.  Pralad had a net. If you live here you cannot take these malarial medicines all your life, they are strong drugs. But as a temporary resident why not – the old adage of prevention being    better than cure certainly applies . I know some volunteers do not take their antimalarials. Readers will remember my dilemma last year when I was suffering from the side effects of my original antimalarials. In the end I stopped in May 2010 hoping the Hot season was too hot for mosquitoes, and started back on a different regime, Larium, upon my return in August after my trip home. Monsoon and post monsoon seem to be the worse periods. So far I am safe and well.
Not so Pralad, even with malarial net, he was bitten by an infected mosquito sometime  over the past couple of weeks. He went from being a healthy young man to dead one within 3 days!  A salient lesson for us all.
From Health Care
Some Orissa Malaria facts (Source)
Orissa reports
23% of all malaria cases in India
40% of Plasmodium falciparum  cases in India
50 % of deaths from Plasmodium falciparum  cases in India

Photo “Awareness raising re malaria and the proper use of mosquito nets”
courtesy of Shakti Organisation


  1. RIP Pralad. Your post brought tears to my eyes. And one feels so small, so insignificant, not been able to help, to do anything.

    Keep safe my friend!

  2. Tx Inaie. It was a very sad day.

    I did some work a few years back with a group of researchers in Spain who are working to improve malaria medicines. Their dedication was immense.

    I keep plugging the charities which distribute malaria nets. One net costs so little, just over 3GBP / US$5. If everybody bought just one....
    that's the idea behind the site which is part of

    Mybednet actively shows you where your net goes through volunteer support to upload videos, photos of the net distributions.

    Mine went to someone in Vuura, Moyo SunCounty, West Nile Region, Uganda when I did it a few years back.

    If you would like to do something, do this.

  3. RIP. Malaria is an all too common disease in Orissa and as you say, there's not much you can do to eliminate the risk but a bednet goes a long way to reducing it

  4. Coincidently this morning saw this in the press raising the prospect of good news on the war against malaria front re the vaccine trials