UNICEF Representative visits Cabo Delgado
Maputo, 24 January 2005 – UNICEF Representative Leila Pakkala undertook her first field visit in Mozambique to Cabo Delgado province. Areas supported by UNICEF include the fight against malaria, maternal mortality and HIV/AIDS.
“Cabo Delgado has the highest rates of child and maternal mortality, and of women illiteracy of all provinces in Mozambique. UNICEF wants to extend its support to the province, provided we receive the necessary funds”, Ms. Pakkala concluded after the mission.
The health system of the northern-most province bordering Tanzania consists of one provincial and three rural hospitals, as well as 95 health centres. The whole province has only 26 medical doctors, with four of them being paediatricians. Around 50 of the health centres offer basic obstetric care with only 3 of them providing emergency services. On the whole, only around 60% of the population have access to these health facilities. Another important contributing factor to the high child and maternal mortality rate is the women illiteracy rate of 83%.
In November 2004, UNICEF started supporting the distribution of insecticide treated mosquito nets in the three districts of Montepuez, Quissanga and Ibo. After the evaluation of this pilot project, the aim is to extend the support to other districts. Malaria is the first cause of child mortality throughout Mozambique accounting for around 35% of all death cases among children under five years of age.
In addition, UNICEF is supporting the health sector in Cabo Delgado in the area of antenatal and obstetric care. This includes the construction of “waiting houses” at maternity wards which help pregnant women from rural sites to arrive in time and have a place to stay before entering into labour. UNICEF is also providing equipment such as transport to facilitate emergency interventions in case of complications. Another area of support is the training of health personnel in antenatal care.
With an estimated 7.5% of the population aged 15 to 49 years being infected, Cabo Delgado has the lowest HIV prevalence rate of all Mozambican provinces. Prevention activities aim at avoiding a further increase. Part of these activities is the child to child radio programme of Radio Moçambique. The young radio producers dedicate a considerable part of their programme to HIV/AIDS prevention.