Even if one of my children got malaria, I wouldn’t change my mind

Winston is a man whose strong convictions could prove fatal for him and his family.

Unlike the majority of his neighbours, he’s barring access to a team from Boane hospital who are spraying the walls of local homes with mosquito repellant to combat malaria.


“Of course I’m afraid of malaria,” he says. “But we have mosquito nets.”

He says he doesn’t trust the authorities, and that he fears the chemicals used will make his children sick.

Considering DDT can cause health problems, Winston’s latter point is a fair one.

But one of the spraying team tells him they’re using deltamethrin – an arguably less toxic treatment.

He says he doesn’t care.

“Even if one of my children got malaria, I wouldn’t change my mind.”

But Winston seems to be an anomaly in the neighbourhood.

Italia Jaime says someone from the hospital came last week to inform her about the benefits of the spraying procedure.

She waits outside her home with her daughters as the team sprays the rooms of her house. She’s already covered her furniture, removed all food from the kitchen, and knows to wait two hours before re-entering her home.

Earlier in the week I went out with a team in Xai Xai province who were informing residents there about the spraying program.

For the most part, people are receptive but apparently there are also people here like Winston who are resistant.

Alcida Isaias, in charge of the provincial program, says there’s a lot of disinformation in the communities.

“When they see the bodies of dead insects after a spraying, some people think the insecticide actually attracts them.”

Others believe mosquitoes only bite in the winter months.

Isaias says crew members tell locals that ultimately they’re all involved in the fight against malaria.

And everybody has to do their part.

Marc Ellison is in Mozambique on a trip organized by the International Reporting Project (IRP).