"Like a Nightmare”: Amy Maxmen on Konzo

A veteran science journalist who has covered everything from West Africa’s Ebola outbreak to the Cambrian explosion, Amy Maxmen had never encountered anything like konzo.
 
Maxmen reported GHN’s series “Bitter Harvest: Cassava and Konzo, the Crippling Disease” from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
 
In this Q&A, Maxmen shares what it was like to document the effects of the paralytic disease caused by a drought-resistant variety of cassava that harbors cyanide. In Kahemba, DRC, known as the “place of suffering,” perhaps 1 in 10 people have been afflicted by the disease that targets the poorest of the poor. They rely on makeshift crutches or wheelchairs—or crawl on the ground.
 
The Quote: “So, as a writer, I try to bring my audience in by focusing on elements of people’s lives that everyone can relate to as humans. That’s why I profiled a Congolese doctor and scientist who communicates so smoothly, and that’s why I structured another piece around a love story.”
Brian W. Simpson, Global Health NOW

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