Elena Banda from Manchinjiri, Blantyre in Malawi lost her son, Praise, to bacterial meningitis in February 2010 aged 10 months.
Elena describes what happened: “Praise became ill with a fever and then he had convulsions. I waited three days before going to our local Health Centre as I thought he had Malaria and would get better.
"The first time I went to Luwanda Health Centre I was given medication – LA which is for malaria. When I got back home Praise was not any better and there was no improvement so I decided to go back to the health facility for a second time but we were sent back home again Praise didn’t get any better and he was looking worse, so I decided to go to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) in Blantyre.
"We got to QECH by public transport – the mini buses. It took me an hour to walk to the health clinic from my home as there is no public transport in my village but to travel to QECH it took only 30 minutes. It’s quicker to get to hospital than the health clinic.
"We arrived at QECH and they tried to turn us away as I hadn’t got a stamp in his Health Passport, I was told to go back to health clinic and get one and then come back. Praise was so sick that I went into a consultation room next door and the doctors saw how sick he was and admitted him.
"For the first day he was being treated for Malaria but during the ward rounds Praise had a convulsion so one of the nurses suggested they did a lumber puncture, it took a day for them to get the results but when they came back they transferred him into the research ward where they treat babies for meningitis and started giving him medicine.
"He was treated for meningitis for one day before he died.
I think I would be able to spot the symptoms of meningitis again and am worried that my new one-year-old daughter, Tiyamike, will get the disease. When I was pregnant with her I had to attend the ante natal care clinics frequently to rule out any complications as they knew Praise had died of meningitis.
"I have never heard of any other children in the village with meningitis but I have explained to other people in the village about what happened to Praise."
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