As the blistering sun shines over Mozambique, Omak Huvo dons a 11-liter tank of insecticide and her protective gear and sets off into the day. She does this for one reason alone: so that she can travel from house to house to help protect families from one of the biggest killers the world has ever known, malaria.
Huvo, who works as an indoor residual sprayer for Goodbye Malaria, an on-the-ground Malaria elimination programme, has her own reasons for taking up the arms against this global killer.
“When I was just 12 years old, I was hospitalised for 6 months because of malaria. I told myself that after I got better I wanted to become one of those people who did something to stop it. When I turned 18, I enrolled in a government spraying programme and eventually started working for Goodbye Malaria. I have been able to help save lives or the past 7 years,” she explains.
Despite advances in medication, malaria remains a global killer. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), over 216 million cases of malaria were reported in 2016 and 445 000 people died as a result of malaria. Earlier this year Huvo lost her aunt to the disease.
All this hardship has only intensified her commitment to seeing the end of malaria.
“I love what I do because, when I go to work I know I am saving lives. Malaria in Mozambique is a terrible disease, it kills people. I would like to encourage people living in Mozambique to accept the sprayers and let us do this job. We are doing this job because we are taking a stand against malaria, we don’t want to lose any more people. It hurts us to see people suffering from this disease,” she says.
Based in Manica, Mozambique, this mother of two, is one of the 1 250 boots on the ground working on the Goodbye Malaria Indoor Residual Spraying Programme running in eight district in Southern Mozambique. The organisation’s operations extend to the MOSASWA (Mozambique, South Africa and Swaziland) region and has managed to reduce malaria infections by 70% in its areas of operation.
But why spraying? Huvo is adamant that spraying is the most realistic way to eradicate malaria. “Spraying houses is better than any other way to help protect against malaria. We have to tell people that even if they use insect repellent, it doesn’t help as well as our spraying project. Even mosquito nets are not as effective, because you can’t take the nets into your living rooms or your kitchens, spraying is the only way. When you spray in the houses, mosquitoes can’t enter, if they do, they can’t stay for very long. When the mosquito touches the wall it dies,” she explains.
While not saving lives, Huvo enjoys cooking traditional meals for her family and watching horror movies with her friends.
“I love cooking, chicken, mince, and Matapa, which is a traditional dish from Mozambique and is made from young cassava leaves. I also like to visit my cousins and meet up with my friends to watch horror movies. During my off periods, I also make and sell Capulanas, which is a type of sarong traditionally worn in Mozambique,” Huvo concludes.
For more about this incredible sprayer and the work that Goodbye Malaria does in Mozambique, visit their website at www.goodbyemalaria.com.