It had been a week, and the pain wasn’t going away. As I doubled over, I continued to assume that I just had a bad case of indigestion. My astute wife however, noting that I had been complaining of stomach pains, fatigue and headaches for a week, insisted that we go see a doctor. Reluctantly, I followed her advice.
And I am glad that I did.

After running a lab test, the physician came back and told me I had an acute case of Amoebiasis. This infection, caused by a parasitic protozoan (as opposed to a bacteria or a virus) can lead to amoebic dysentery or amoebic liver abscesses, which can cause irreparable damage to the gastrointestinal tract and liver respectively if not caught in its early stages.

Fortunately for me, treatment is readily available at an affordable price. The drug Flagyl can be purchased for the cost of 9,000 Rwandan Francs ($15 USD).

When I got home from the doctor’s office, I did some research on the nature of the disease. I was surprised to learn that the World Health Organization estimates that 50 million people worldwide are infected with Amoebiasis and that 70,000 people still die from it yearly.

If a child contracts Amoebiasis, the resulting infection can stunt growth and cognitive development, greatly reducing a child’s capacity to learn.

Thankfully, the enterprising proprietors of many private schools in Rwanda have noticed this and have created on site health clinics for their students. Parents gauge the success of their children’s schools by following their students’ collective performance on standardized tests. School proprietors care deeply for their students and know that if students are sick when they take the test, it will be bad for business. It is in proprietors’ best interest for their students to succeed on such tests.

We are heartened to see school proprietors taking an active interest in the health and wellbeing of their students.

And am I ever thankful for Flagyl…