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Zimbabwe, September 2014: New UNICEF data reveals vast progress made for children and women in Zimbabwe, but disparities persist

© UNICEF 2014
The survey collected statistical analysis from the ten provinces of Zimbabwe and presents the latest available country data and estimates on social sectors that include child protection, water and sanitation, maternal and child health, education...

By Richard Nyamanhindi

A report from a survey by the Government of Zimbabwe and UNICEF reveals that vast progress has been made for children and women since 2009 when most social sectors faced collapse.

The survey collected statistical analysis from the ten provinces of Zimbabwe and presents the latest available country data and estimates on social sectors that include child protection, water and sanitation, maternal and child health, education, and nutrition.

The Multiple Cluster Indicator Survey (MICS) 2014, designed by UNICEF and carried out by ZimStat, shows that the number of women who die while giving birth has gone down from 960 per 100 000 to 614 per 100 000.

The MICS report also shows that since 2009:

  • The number of mothers who practice exclusive breastfeeding has increased from 20 per cent in 2009 to 41 per cent.
  • Full immunisation coverage has risen from about 31 per cent in 2009 to 69 per cent.
  • The number of women who visit antenatal care has gone up from 57 per cent to 70 per cent while post-natal care for mothers, which stood at 27 per cent in 2010, now stands at 78 per cent.
  • About 99 per cent of pupils enrolled for primary education complete the whole primary level, compared to the previous 44 per cent.
  • About 70 per cent of the country’s population has access to safe drinking water.

 

Much of Zimbabwe’s progress in the above sectors is attributed to financial support from the transition funds that include the Health Transition Fund, Education Development Fund and the Child Protection Fund. 

Nonetheless, the latest statistics from the MICS also show that the country still has a lot to do in regards to sanitation and child protection, with more than 31 per cent of the population practicing open defecation and only 32 per cent of children under 5 years having their births registered.

An average of 33 percent of women between 20 and 49 years are getting married before the age of 18.

In addition the data shows that, the number of under-five births who were reported registered has dropped from about 38 percent to about 32 percent in 2014. On nutrition, 11,2 percent of children are under-weight, 27 percent are stunted (too short for their weight and age), 3,3 percent are wasted with 3,6 per cent being overweight. 

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr. Gerald Gwinji welcomed the latest statistics, saying they would go a long way in shaping Government priorities in the social sectors.

Dr. Gwinji said the results showed that Zimbabwe was in the right direction on improving the social service system.

“The trends are indeed encouraging. What we now need to do is to work on issues of improving that trend. We now need to work on issues of quality and equity,” he said.

Dr. Gwinji said the survey results were going to be the pillars of the Ministry of Health and Child Care national health strategy where they would help to focus on the lagging indicators.

UNICEF Representative, Mr. Reza Hossaini, encouraged the Government to build on the achievements and sustain the gains from the progress made thus far.

“Let us keep in mind that, yes, we have won battles here and there. Indeed we have bent the [trends of] maternal mortality, but we have really not won the war as yet. These gains cannot be sustained and further progress cannot be made if we lose our focus from those strategic choices that we have made, now that we know they have delivered positive results,” he said.

The UNICEF Representative thanked the various donors and other technical partners including UNDP, UNFPA and MCHIP for the successful Zimbabwe MICS 2014.

The survey was carried out with funding from the European Union and will feed into the development of the Zimbabwe United Nations Development Assistance Framework (ZUNDAF) which is jointly coordinated by the Office of the President and Cabinet and the UN Resident Coordinator. 

ZimStat Director-General Mr. Mutasa Dzinotizei said the detailed report was expected to come out in the last part of the year.

Designed and supported by UNICEF, MICS are conducted by national statistical authorities and provide disaggregated data on a range of topics affecting children's survival, development, rights and experience of life. To date, MICS surveys have been conducted in more than 100 countries.

 

 
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