Cahora & Tete

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Little critter, mass murderer

Little critter, mass murderer

Little critter, mass murderer

Falling ill with malaria is commonplace in Tete. It is an indiscriminate disease - hitting children and adults, residents and visitors, factory workers and bosses alike, although economics and education play a substantial role in prevention and recovery.

Malaria, considered the most important public health problem in Mozambique, accounts for 29% of all deaths, and 42% of deaths amongst children under five years old. The human tragedy and the economic cost of the disease in Teteis massive.

Records of the disease date back nearly 4,000 years; it was named Mal’ Aria, ‘bad air’, by the Romans, believing swampy air caused the sickness. In 1897 Ronald Ross, a British officer in the Indian Medical Service, discovered that the parasite was transmitted by mosquitoes (known as ‘vectors’).

A global campaign begun in 1955 by the World Health Organisation to eradicate malaria was scaled back in 1969. Seeing the battle lost as the parasites and vectors developed resistance to the drugs and chemicals thrown at them, the Organisation moved from eradication to ‘eliminate where possible and control elsewhere’.

Bill and Melinda Gates, founders and activists for the Gates Foundation, challenge this philosophy. In her keynote address to the Malaria Forum in 2007, Melinda insisted that “It’s a waste of the world’s talent and intelligence, it’s wrong and unfair…”

In 2010, researchers for Mozdan (Mozambican-Danish Rural Malaria Project) conducted an experiment in the Mozambican village of Furvela. Front gable and side openings of randomly selected houses were progressively sealed off over 12 weeks with old mosquito nets, closely woven local shade cloth (maxixe), or chemically treated shade cloth of a looser weave (Zero Vector), reducing mosquito entry into the houses.

The results were fascinating. With only the gables covered, the mosquito net and maxixe shade cloth significantly reduced the total number of Anopheles(A.) funestus entering, but Zero Vector had less effect. All three materials reduced the numbers of A. gambiae.

Covering the whole house was more effective than gable covers alone in reducing the numbers of A. gambiae, but it made no difference in keeping A. funestus out – the gable covers were sufficient. The researchers came to the conclusion that different types of mosquitoes had ‘differing house entry strategies’.

What exciting news – an anti-malaria measure that’s environmentally friendly, is accessible, affordable and easily DIY, recycles old mosquito nets and avoids dousing ourselves in vile smelling chemicals. Further research on this please!


There are four different strains of malaria. A fifth, infecting apes, has been discovered.

In Mozambique, Plasmodium falciparum accounts for 90% of all malaria infections, with P. malariae and P. ovale responsible for about 9% and 1%, respectively.

The major vectors in Mozambique are Anopheles gambiaes.s., A. arabiensis, A. funestuss.l., and A. funestuss.s.

Of the major subspecies of the A. gambiae complex, A. arabiensis is more prevalent in the south and A. gambiae in the north.

Mozambique Population (2013): 24 million.

Plant mosquito repellent plants in your garden: Feverfew, Pennyroyal, Lavender, Marigolds, and Citronella Grass work best planted together and in the ground rather than pots. Position them around outdoor seating areas, pathways, doors and windows. has a recipe for a DIY spray-on mosquito repellent using lemongrass, rosemary and geranium essential oils mixed with water and castor oil. A less fragrant option is to mix Dettol and water in a spray bottle and use liberally.

Sources: (PMI – Presidents Malaria Initiative) – Netting Barriers to Prevent Mosquito Entry into houses in Southern Mozambique: a pilot study. A Kampango, M Braganca, B de Sousa & J D Charlwood

Read more about the region in our destination guide:
Cahora Bassa & Tete

Read more articles from this issue:
Zambezi Traveller (Issue 14, Sept 2013)