the Secret Storm
A troubled region, sub-Saharan Africa, has fuelled the interest of many people over the years. One person in particular comes to mind, however. Jean Vercoutère of France, film director, has been investigating the silent killer: paludism, also known as malaria.
With more than 15 years of experience under his belt, Jean
Paludisme, l’hécatombe silencieuse also touches on the
Vercoutère has directed 17 documentaries on a wide range
lives of the killer mosquitoes, the culprit behind this
of topics on the popularisation of science, like dyslexia
disease. Viewers get a glimpse into the mosquitoes’ life
and the lives of the physically challenged. However, one
cycle, blood food habits and injection, and the development
film that particularly illustrates the importance of science
of this debilitating disease. Jean Vercoutère provides
popularisation, is his 1999 documentary Paludisme,
descriptions, explanations and analyses, which elucidate
l’hécatombe silencieuse (Malaria, the Secret Storm).
the very essence of paludism. It is a scientific fact that these mosquitoes are impervious to insecticides, and the
Half a billion people are affected by malaria each year,
biggest worry is that they are resistant to chloroquine, an
resulting in two million deaths from this disease. The
anti-malarial drug used to treat this disease.
hardest hit area is Africa, accounting for 90% of the total deaths. What is even more devastating, is that paludism
In 2000, the 14th Scientific Film Festival in Oullins awarded
remains the principle cause of death for children under 5
Jean Vercoutère and Bernard Germain ’Le Deuxième Prix du
years of age, living in sub-Saharan Africa.
Jury Professionnel’ (Second Prize of the Professional Jury) for Paludisme, l’hécatombe silencieuse in the category of
Wanting to show the world the savage effects of paludism,
Jean Vercoutère, along with Bernard Germain, took his quest to Kenya, Tanzania, Benin and Burkina Faso. The result was a fascinating and gripping documentary about this endemic disease and how African people are fighting it on a daily basis. Paludisme, l’hécatombe silencieuse is a visual rendering of the scientific and human conditions of this killer.
The documentary, a production by RTBF-La Cinquième,
P A N E L I N F O
shows the harrowing situation for the people in Africa. The film chronicles the way in which the people try to
Paludisme, l’hécatombe silencieuse
fight paludism, but unfortunately, the means available
(Malaria, the Secret Storm)
are neither strong nor sufficient enough. Essentially, it
is tremendously difficult to fight back at something that
Popularising science through audio-visual and electronic
successfully kills a person every 15 seconds.
media (e.g. scientific television or radio documentaries,
The film notes the significance of the fact that Africans must face this disease on their own. International assistance
will never fulfil their duties to their children. Furthermore,
money is not a guarantee of success in this fight. Houses
must be cleaned assiduously, standing water must never be
left near the villages and the use of impregnated mosquito nets, which are soaked in a pyrethroid insecticide, are only
some of the methods and tools they can use to protect
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