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Mozambique’s rates of infant and under-five mortality, though still very high, have declined since 1997.
Poverty is widespread and the economy remains highly dependent on foreign aid.
Among the greatest challenges facing the country are food insecurity and the HIV/AIDS crisis.
Issues facing children in Mozambique
Food insecurity affects more than 800,000 people, or more than 4 per cent of the population. About 40 per cent of children under age five suffer from stunting as a result of chronic malnutrition. A prolonged drought has harmed crop yields in several provinces.
The HIV prevalence rate continues to increase; 12.2 per cent of 15- to 49-year-olds are estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS, as are more than 90,000 children under age 15. Less than 3 per cent of eligible children are receiving antiretroviral treatment.
About 1.5 million of Mozambique’s children are orphans. About 470,000 children have lost one or both parents to AIDS.
Less than 40 per cent of the country has access to basic health services, largely due to a shortage of trained medical personnel.
Just over 40 per cent of the population has access to clean water. Drought has forced many people to use contaminated water, increasing rates of cholera and diarrhoea.
Malaria, acute respiratory infections, diarrhoea and vaccine-preventable diseases claim the lives of many children.
Primary school enrolment rates have increased for both boys and girls, but half of all children fail to complete primary school.
Activities and results for children
In 2005, UNICEF and its partners trained more than 500 health-care workers to treat severe malnutrition. In drought-affected areas, 65,000 insecticide-treated bed nets were distributed to prevent malaria.
More than 8 million children (97 per cent coverage) were vaccinated against measles, and 4.3 million were immunized against polio in 2005. Vitamin A supplements were provided to 3.4 million children under age five.
UNICEF and its partners rehabilitated boreholes, dug wells and constructed new water points, providing clean water to nearly 100,000 additional people.
Approximately 160,000 children received life skills education, learning how to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS. More than 50,000 pregnant women received HIV counselling to prevent transmission of the disease to their babies (more than 30,000 agreed to be tested; 7,000 were found positive; and 2,240 received the prophylaxis Nevirapine).
UNICEF and its partners helped 67,000 orphans gain access to basic social services. And by helping 11 provinces provide birth certificates for 165,000 children, UNICEF paved the way for a new national birth-registration system.
Advocacy by UNICEF encouraged the government to adopt child-friendly strategies in its poverty reduction plan for 2006–2009 and its programme to support orphans and vulnerable children.