He was lying on the hospital bed with his hands on his forehead and a drip protruding from his wrist. Thirty minutes previously I’d received a phone call from a man to say “your friend collapsed in the Internet Cafe and is now in hospital. Please come!”.

Hiromu had seemed fine the night before. After saying goodbye 9 months ago in Morocco, we met again the previous evening and had plenty to talk about. He too is cycling to South Africa, having started his journey in Istanbul last year, so I’m hoping we can make a plan together. Now he looked pale and in pain as I tried to decipher his Japanese in the accident and emergency ward.

Sure enough he had malaria, and when the nurse rolled him over and jabbed him up the backside with two injections of quinine I was glad it wasn’t me. Not even my joke about this being her first Japanese bottom to deal with produced any response, apart from her asking me to leave the room. I went in search of food and found what you see below.

Hiromu with Malaria

Hiromu hadn’t been taking any prophylactics to prevent himself from the disease. What did he expect after cycling through the rainy season in west Africa (we followed similar routes as far as Liberia, after which he went inland to Mali and Burkina Faso)? Now he was paying for it. And would do for the next several days as I delayed my departure and nursed him back to some semblance of life, whilst he ached, groaned and sweated it out from a shoe-box-sized room in a guest house.

Despite the pain and his foolishness for not taking any prophylactics, Hiromu is one of the lucky ones. He paid the £40 hospital fees and received the necessary treatment to get better. For millions of other Africans (often pregnant women and children) malaria is a step into the grave. Lack of funds and access to treatment means many people die. An insecticide treated mosquito net, such as the ones I’m raising money for in support of the Against Malaria Foundation, is a simple and cost-effective way to prevent the disease. Your support is much appreciated.

I’m happy to say Hiromu made a slow, but sure recovery, although I left him after several days and journeyed on alone to Accra. It will now be Togo, Benin or Nigeria that we meet again.