Saturday, October 5, 2013

No One Has To Die 

of Malaria

Occasionally I write articles for the Light Magazine a monthly Christian magazine that is published in the Fraser Valley. I enjoy meeting the people and interviewing them about their interesting lives. Last month I met Stuart Spani and interviewed him at Central City mall in Surrey. It happened to be his 81st birthday. Stuart was funny and energetic and he is tirelessly raising funds to stop malaria from killing people. 

He is convinced that No One Has to Die

Visit his website Malaria Defeated and read the story below, pass along this information to anyone who can benefit from this. 

Taking the deadly sting out of malaria

Missionary Stuart Spani outside a ZoClinic.

Setting up ZoClinics by Elsemieke Wishart

Malaria is deadly – a child dies of it every minute, and it kills 3,000 people every day. Those who do survive suffer from its effects: a weakened immune system and days of feeling achy with pounding headaches. Most of the world’s malaria deaths occur in Sub-Saharan Africa.

North Vancouver resident Stuart Spani is dedicated to eradicating malaria, village by village. He compares the number of fatalities from this disease to having a 911 terrorist attack daily. Spani is working on a project to set up treatment clinics, called ZoClinics, to wipe out malaria. The clinics were started nine years ago. At a cost of only $400 per clinic they operate with a three step plan: early detection; quarantine; and grow your own free medicine. 

Spani, who at 81 years old is still active in missions trips to end malaria, first got involved in 1996 when he heard a choir from Mizoram(a state in northern India) perform in Vancouver. He was so inspired by the story of Christian hope in Mizoram – “a community of over 700,000 people with no homeless, no starvation, no beggars and where all are literate” – he decided to visit.  Spani was 64 years old when he went on his first missions trip to India. 

 In Mizoram Spani met Malsaum Dawng Liana (Dawng) a man studying to become a doctor. Dawng had suspended studies after his father died of malaria, to take care of his family. After six more people in his village died of malaria, Dawng created the ZoClinics, setting up the first one in his village in 2004. Since then no one in his village has died of malaria. Spani was so impressed with the effectiveness of the clinics that he partnered with Dawng to raise funds to eradicate malaria village by village in India and around the world. The plan is simple and inexpensive, yet life-saving.

Early detection and quarantine

When a ZoClinic is set up in a village, a local person is trained as a technician to identify malaria using a microscope. The technician visits each house to describe the early symptoms of malaria (headache, fever and vomiting) and he tells people to come to the clinic right away if symptoms appear. If the test is positive the patient is treated immediately. Malaria treated within 24 to 48 hours has a high cure rate.

Malaria is spread when an infected person is bitten by a mosquito and that mosquito passes on the larvae to another person. Patients are isolated under a mosquito net at the clinic to contain the infection.

Free medicine

Many poor people cannot afford to pay for nets or malaria medication—they may purchase less expensive (and less effective) medication and usually quit when the symptoms disappear, which is too soon to be malaria free. This results in loss of work for several weeks and sometimes death. 

But the ZoClinics dispense free medicine—a bitter tasting tea made from the artemisia plant. The Chinese have used artemisia for 2,000 years to treat fever; during the 1970s it was discovered to have anti-malaria capabilities. Drinking artemisia tea for five to seven days will cure malaria after which a second test is done to confirm the patient is malaria-free.   Artemisia is easy to cultivate. “One plant can make 1,000 cuttings, producing enough plants to treat 3,000 people,” explains Spani.  

Spani is raising funds to set up clinics in all 55 malaria-prone countries in the world. In December 2012 there were 100 ZoClinics in India and in March 2013 Spani travelled to Africa with his grandson Mike to visit the 28 Zoclinics in Burundi, Rwanda and Zambia. Funds are in place for 28 more clinics in Kenya and West Africa while Spani is raising money for 50 clinics in various African countries. 

Spani is not sure how much longer he will be travelling on missions trips. “My family thinks I should start acting my age,” he jokes. “Seriously, I am not sure how much longer I can travel like that by myself. I took a grandson with me last time.”

Spani is determined to use ZoClinics to take the deadly sting out of malaria by raising awareness and money. He is a living example that we are never too old to make a difference in the world. 

To help: For more information:

October 2013 (2013-10-04)

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