Maputo — Malaria killed 365 people in Mozambique in the first six months of this year, out of 35,136 people seriously infected with the disease, according to Health Minister Armindo Tiago.
This is a reduction on the figure for the same period in 2019, when 465 people died of malaria and 44,320 were seriously infected.
Although the number of malaria deaths has fallen, the total number of malaria cases (both mild and serious) is on the rise. The Health Ministry recorded 6,318,292 malaria cases in the first six months of 2019, and 6,685,873 cases from January to June this year, an increase of almost six per cent.
The Minister announced these figures during the launch in Maputo of the Malaria Fund Association, which is intended to be a public-private partnership formed to mobilise resources to fill in the current gaps in financing the struggle against malaria.
“It’s important to mention that we have maintained a reduction in the number of deaths from malaria over the past five years”, said Tiago, stressing that the country’s health units have improved their management of serious malaria cases.
Nonetheless, the absolute number of malaria cases was “a major concern” for the Mozambican government, since it has a serious impact on economic and social development.
The large number of malaria infections, he said, maintains the cycle of disease and poverty, which is now worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Malaria remains one of the greatest public health problems in Mozambique, because it is transmitted continually throughout the year. It hits the poorest strata of society disproportionately, Tiago said, because their flimsy homes offer few barriers to mosquitoes, and they have limited access to health services, and to information about how to prevent malaria.
The Malaria Fund Association intends to ensure that the fight against the disease remains at the top of the national agenda. It will identify bottlenecks in the current attempts to control and eliminate malaria, and will develop innovate mechanisms to mobiliser resources, particularly from private businesses.
Tiago said the new Association will continue the “Zero Malaria Begins with Me” campaign launched in June 2018 at the first National Malaria Forum, chaired by President Filipe Nyusi. At that meeting, Nyusi urged all citizens, including political, business, religious and community leaders to make a personal commitment to reducing the weight of the disease on society.
Tiago told the Monday meeting that malaria is a heavy burden on the health system, including such factors as the distribution of mosquito nets, and the costs of spaying homes with insecticides. Economic production and growth is also affected by the absenteeism and reduced productivity of worker suffering from malaria.
The new Association, said Tiago, must behave with transparency and a high degree of responsibility. It should provide regular information on its work to the Ministry of Health, and all of its reports should be public.