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Thursday, 17 January, 2002, 18:15 GMT
Mozambique's malaria emergency
Malaria is spread by mosquitoes, BBC
Hospitals are battling to cope with the epidemic
By Jose Tembe in Maputo

Authorities in Mozambique have expressed concern over the growing number of malaria cases, which has now reached epidemic proportions.

Mozambican mother and child await malaria treatment, BBC
Malaria is Mozambique's biggest killer disease

The disease is now responsible for the largest number of admissions and deaths in the country's hospitals.

Health authorities, who are battling to find an effective solution, have just launched an emergency campaign to spray mosquito breeding grounds with insecticide.

But with hospitals admitting an average of 800 malaria patients a day, the situation is becoming desperate.

Emergency campaign

Three of the largest hospitals in the Mozambican capital, Maputo, have now been forced to assign two patients per single bed.

Last year the country's major hospitals registered over 280,000 malaria cases resulting in more than 1,200 deaths.

Mozambican child treated for malaria, BBC
Many children are killed by the disease

The insecticide spraying campaign will first target low-lying parts of Maputo.

Deputy National Health Director Avertino Barreto, says the sharp rise in malaria cases is largely due to the waters from floods in 2000 which are yet to drain away.

But a malaria research group has calculated that the anti-malaria spraying campaign will only help reduce the spread of the disease by 5%.

The group said it would have been more effective if the campaign had been launched earlier.

Killer diseases

Malaria continues to be the number one killer illness in Mozambique and the health authorities have been battling to identify a more effective treatment.

The disease has become resistant to chloroquine.

Another headache for health authorities is the water-borne disease cholera, which has killed 139 people out of 12,000 cases since the epidemic broke out last August.

They say the disease is now affecting eight of the country's 11 provinces.

The worst hit province is central Zambezia which has registered 5,000 cases, resulting in 74 deaths.

The authorities blame the spread on the high mobility of people, bad sanitation conditions and poor drinking water.

See also:

25 Feb 01 | Africa
Flood aid for Mozambique
26 Nov 01 | Africa
DDT and Africa's war on malaria
23 May 01 | Health
Africa to get cheap malaria drug
16 May 01 | Health
Premature puberty link to DDT
22 May 01 | Sci/Tech
Ban agreed on toxic chemicals
13 Jun 01 | South Asia
Deadly malaria strain in India
07 Jun 01 | Health
Cattle used to fight malaria
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