NAMPULA, MOZAMBIQUE, April 27 (NNN-AIM) — Although the number of reported cases of malaria in Mozambique rose last year, there has been a substantial decline in mortality from the disease, says Health Minister Nazira Abdula.

Speaking at an event marking World Malaria Day in the northern city of Nampula on Tuesday, Abdula said 6,418,516 cases of malaria were reported in 2015, compared with 5,820,340 in 2014, an increase of just over 10 per cent.

However, in 2015 there were about 2,400 deaths from malaria –most of them children — which was a decline of 26 per cent from the 2014 figure of 3,245.

Abdula said the high number of malaria cases remained a major concern for the government. The level of absenteeism from school and from work caused by malaria was holding up the economic and social development of the country, and maintained the cycle of disease and poverty.

“Despite the knowledge we have of malaria, and though there were some improvements last year, it remains a killer disease and one of the major public health problems in our country,” she added.

Major strides had been taken in malaria prevention, Adula said. In 2015, there had been mass distribution of mosquito nets in 41 of the country’s 151 districts, reaching about 95 per cent of the population of those districts, while 19 districts were covered by house to house spraying against mosquitoes, and 92 per cent of the population living in these areas had been protected.

At the same time, 85 per cent of pregnant women attending ante-natal consultations were given mosquito nets.

There are encouraging signs internationally that malaria is on the retreat. Globally, deaths from the disease fell by 60 per cent between 2000 and 2015, and cases of malaria declined by 37 per cent. Over this period an estimated 6.2 million lives were saved.

But in 2015, there were still 214 million cases of the diseases and 438,000 malaria deaths, 90 per cent of them in sub-Saharan Africa.