A vida da Rosa

Tracking Malaria in Mozambique: A Photo Story

World Malaria Day is celebrated on April 25.

The photographer Alfons Rodríguez has travelled to Mozambique to share with us the life of Rosa and her contribution to the fight against malaria.

Photos: Alfons Rodríguez

Text: Adelaida Sarukhan / Alfons Rodríguez / Beatriz Fiestas

Land of mosquitoes

Mozambique is among the ten countries with the highest burden of malaria worldwide. The district of Magude is surrounded by humid areas and irrigated crops such as sugar cane, which favour the proliferation of the 'Anopheles' mosquito that transmits the malaria parasite. © Alfons Rodríguez

5.00 am

Rosa Mouzinho is 39 years old and was born in Magude. Every morning, she folds the bed net under which she and her eight year-old daughter Camila Carmen sleep. © Alfons Rodríguez

Getting ready

Rosa prepares herself for work. For the last two years, she has been part of a team from the Manhiça Health Research Centre (CISM) committed to finding a way to eliminate malaria in Southern Mozambique. © Alfons Rodríguez

In 2016, there were 216 million cases of malaria worldwide. Of the 445,000 deaths, most (91%) occurred in sub-Saharan Africa. The spread of insecticide-resistant mosquitoes and drug-resistant parasites, as well as the stagnation in funding for the fight against the disease, jeopardise the progress made over the last decades and underscore the importance of eliminating the disease.

The office at Magude

Rosa collects her main work instrument, a tablet with information of malaria cases in the district. At certain moments of the project, there have been more than 500 tablets connected in the office at the same time. © Alfons Rodríguez

The mobile unit

Rosa and her colleagues load the vehicle with everything they will need during the day. The project covers a study area of 6,960 km2, with 11,960 households and 52,740 people. © Alfons Rodríguez


At a cattle pond, Rosa and a team of entomologists collect larvae of the 'Anopheles gambiae' mosquito which they will then send to the CISM. © Alfons Rodríguez

The CISM was born more than 20 years ago. Since then, it has become a center of reference for malaria research. In its insectary, new vector control tools can be evaluated: bed nets treated with different insecticides, chemicals in the pipeline, or old drugs with mosquito-killing effect (ivermectin).

Breeding mosquitoes

The insectary at the CISM can host up to 24,000 mosquito larvae that will be used for different studies. A member of the team inspects the mosquitoes that have grown from larvae captured in the field. © Alfons Rodríguez

The mosquito

Male 'Anopheles' feed from the nectar of certain plants but females also need blood for producing eggs. Therefore, only females transmit the malaria parasite. The image shows captive females with a full belly after ingesting bovine blood. © Alfons Rodríguez


One of the interventions that has most contributed to reducing the number of malaria cases is indoor spraying. A member of the Tchau Tchau Malaria (Goodbye Malaria) organization sprays a household with insecticide. The effect will last six months, during which the walls should not be washed or painted. © Alfons Rodríguez


Rosa helps her colleagues Albino Vembane and Agustinho Sitoé while they perform tests to evaluate the efficacy of the insecticide that was used to spray the walls of the household. © Alfons Rodríguez

A bioassay

Blowing through a tube, Agustinho Sitoé introduces a mosquito into a capsule adhered on the wall. If the mosquito dies, it means that the insecticide is still effective. © Alfons Rodríguez

Bed nets

Insecticide-treated bed nets have been -and still are- one of the most powerful weapons in the fight against malaria. Bed nets alone account for 70% of the reduction in malaria cases over the last decades worldwide. © Alfons Rodríguez