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Malarone

As I was packing for our trip to Nairobi this morning I was struck by my malarone tablets. If you’ve never traveled to a place where malaria is endemic, you’ve likely never heard of this medication. It prevents the parasite (malaria is not caused by a bacteria but rather a parasite with a rather complicated life cycle) from successfully invading my body.

As I looked at the bottle I started thinking of the line of Christian thinking that teaches the avoidance of medications. There are several different reasons depending on your particular line of thinking.  Some feel healing comes only from God, and medications take away the glory of God.  Others feel that because drugs of any kind alter the body they should not be used. Still others feel there is a verse in the Bible that calls the use of medications witchcraft, although what verse that is and the wording it uses is not in my head at the moment.

This brings me back to the idea of medication in childbirth.  Perhaps it isn’t a fair contrast because we do have documented increases in labor stimulation medications in the United States. But I can’t help but think that as much as I would hope to avoid using medications in labor, I have no problem taking malarone just in case I am bit by a mosquito that carries the malaria parasite. Should I use the same logic? Should I assume my body is healthy and will  fight off infection, using medications only if I contract malaria? Or is it better to take a pill every day to prevent the illness from happening?  I know I could say childbirth is a normal and healthy process of the human body, but in prevention of malaria I will be taking a pill every day while my body is healthy.

It’s a sticky question and I’m sure I’ll need to think more on it before my mind comes to a conclusion.  But tomorrow, I’ll start the malarone.

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Jennifer Vanderlaan CNM MPH is the author of the BirthingNaturally.net website. She has been working with expectant families since 2000, training doulas and childbirth educators, and midwives. She has worked with midwives in Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Her interest in public health grew in 2010, and she is now a PhD student in a nursing program learning to become a producer of knowledge.

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