Elakisho Petros from Soche, Malawi contracted meningitis in 2011 when she was one week old. Mum, Sarah tells us her story:
Elakisho was ok for the first week of her life but one morning I went to draw water and came back and realised that she wasn’t well, she looked very weak and not normal. I visited a neighbour who advised me to go to the Limbe health clinic as there might be something wrong.
When I got there they told me that the baby had fainted and was unconscious and referred us to Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QECH) so we took the minibus from Limbe to the hospital.
When we got to QECH we were sent to the under 5's ward and met Dr Tapana who did a lumber puncture on Elakisho and they discovered she had meningitis. We were then taken to the research ward and she was put on oxygen and given medicine. I didn’t know what was wrong with Elakisho but just knew something wasn’t right which is why I took her to the health clinic. The doctors didn’t know what type of meningitis it was that she had, we were just told that it was bacterial meningitis and we had to stay for a month and I was with her the whole time.
I have two other children (one 9 yrs old and one 6 yrs old) so my mum came and took the children to her home in Zomba whilst I stayed in hospital with their sister.
Since Elakisho has been discharged from the hospital she has been having fevers and sometimes she has convulsions after the fever. At QECH they told me to go directly to the hospital if she becomes sick again. If we don’t have any money to take the minibus to hospital I walk which takes two hours.
Went I visited my home village, she became sick again so I went to local health clinic and they gave her quinine for malaria which seemed to make her better.
Elakisho contracting meningitis has affected the family a lot as she is frequently ill, the left hand side of her body is weak and she limps when she walks and we think she has a problem with her sight as well. When we were at QECH I was told to go back if I noticed anything had changed in her and I went to see Dr Tapana again.
Elakisho has been referred to have physiotherapy and we have been given exercises for her to do as she keeps folding her thumb into the middle of her hand and needs to stretch it back out.
My husband, Goster, was very worried about his daughter being sick. He is not employed at moment but he has a driving license and is looking for a job. He said: “Elakisho is always ill and I wish that she would get well so she can be like all the other children.”
I couldn’t tell you what the symptoms are of meningitis as I didn’t know about the disease before my baby became sick but I have been telling my friends about what happened. Many of them didn’t realise that Malaria could reach such an extent that the baby could have convulsions and change to meningitis. Many people in my village think that meningitis is just malaria that affects the brain.