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Two hundred people: That’s the average number of patients testing positive for malaria each day of the month-long rainy season at a single hospital in Malawi. Malaria attacks red blood cells, which become infected by parasite-carrying mosquitos.

Once inside the bloodstream, the parasites multiply in the liver, causing flu-like symptoms such as fever and chills. Twelve-year-old Eunice Newa’s mother brought her to Malawi’s Neno District Hospital with severe symptoms that appeared to be malarial.

Overall weakness and malaise are typical in malaria patients. As her condition is evaluated, Newa is placed on intravenous medications indicated for malaria.

Partners In Health Co-founder Dr. Paul Farmer discusses Newa’s care with her mother and Clinical Officer Atupere Phiri. Newa’s condition appears to support the malaria diagnosis, but the team suspects there may be more to the case. They decide to perform additional blood work on the young girl.

Dr. Farmer uses the Newa case as a teaching opportunity for local clinicians and a group of visiting physicians and international medical students.

In Malawi, a “rapid test” is typically used to quickly determine whether a patient is positive for malaria.

For patients with complicated symptoms, such as Newa, clinicians often perform a more thorough analysis of the blood to rule out or reveal other potential health issues.

Malaria infects red blood cells and can disrupt blood flow in small vessels throughout the body, including the brain.

Dr. Farmer and team view the Newa blood slide and discuss possibilities and further treatment.

A microscope focuses on a glass slide holding Newa’s blood smear.

Two days after the onset of treatment—and to the delight of her mother—12-year-old Newa is able to sit up, eat, and draw.

Bed nets that protect sleeping areas from mosquitos are some of the least expensive and most effective preventives for malaria.

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“The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that's wrong with the world.”

—Dr. Paul Farmer
Chief Strategist & Co-founder