Through a child’s early years, nutrition is especially important to growth and development. In 2007, around 13% of newborns had birth-weights below 2.5kg, and, among children below five years of age, 13.5% were underweight, 26% stunted and 7% wasted. These rates of malnutrition are unusually high for a middle-income country and have worsened since 2000. Nutritional status depends, not only on appropriate feeding, but also access to care and prompt health treatment. Breastfeeding rates in 2007 found that 40% of newborns were promptly breastfed, 20% were exclusively breastfed (0-5 months), and 45% had timely introduction of complementary foods (6-9 months). These relatively low rates are partly influenced by the preference for infant formula in the context of high HIV prevalence.
Access to primary education has remained steady around 85-90% in recent years, with near gender equity. Access to pre-primary education remains limited and the government is keen to improve the quality of education provided, both for pre-primary and primary levels.