Maputo — The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has pledged to disburse 60 million US dollars over the five year period 2012-2016 to finance a new Health Infrastructure Development Programme (HIDP).
The Ministry of Health aims to expand the network of health centres from the current figure of about 1,000 to 1,400 with the building of 400 Type 2 rural centres. Each of these will cater for a population of about 10,000 people, and will provide services including out-patient consultations, vaccination and waiting houses where pregnant women can stay before their child is born.
HIDP will build up to 50 of these centres over the five years. The programme will build 16 of the centres in 2012 - six in Tete province, five in Zambezia and five in Nampula.
The new centres will reduce the distances that many people have to walk in rural Mozambique before they reach a health unit. It is hoped that this will increase the number of births that take place in health units, attended by qualified staff.
The programme also covers the construction of regional and district medical stores. The recently built national medical stores in the outlying Maputo suburb of Zimpeto will be expanded, and two new stores will be built in Sofala, in the centre of the country, and in Nampula, in the north. Over the life of HIDP, it is expected that around 20 district stores will be built.
The third component of the programme is the construction of a health science training centre in Maputo province, with a capacity for 400 students.
HIDP will also support the installation of wells, hand pumps and solar power in health centres, the construction of housing for health for provincial health officials, and equipment for a national laboratory for medicine quality control.
Deputy Health Minister Nazira Abdula declared that the key areas of the programme will make it possible to strengthen the institutional capacity of the health sector, particularly at district level.
"The development of the health network is part of the government's five year programme for 2010-2014", she said. "The partnership with the United States seeks to reduce the burden of the budget for building health centres. As they are built, so we shall acquire the equipment to be installed in them".
The outgoing director of the USAID Maputo office, Todd Amani, said the programme will help the Health Ministry "reach a larger number of people and provide them with better basic health services".
He praised the progress made in reducing infant mortality, and was convinced that "the expansion and improvement of health infrastructures will boost this priority objective".