Maputo — The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has, since 2007, distributed 20 million insecticide treated mosquito nets in collaboration with the Mozambican government, according to Polly Dunford, the interim USAID director in Mozambique.
Speaking on Thursday, at a meeting reflecting on the cooperation between the US and Mozambique, she said that the mosquito nets, distributed under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), have reduced the impact of malaria which has been the main cause of mortality, particularly among Mozambican children, and at peak periods, the main cause of hospitalisation.
Dunford said that, since the launch of PEPFAR in Mozambique in 2006, USAID has disbursed over 200 million dollars for the anti-malaria programme. This sum has covered no only the bed nets, buts also spraying against mosquitoes, intermittent preventive therapy for pregnant women, and the purchase of more effective new drugs against the disease.
She added that USAID has also counted on training health staff and community activists to ensure greater sustainability in the preventive measures against malaria.
Dunford said that USAID also pays special attention to agriculture, since this is the sector on which about 80 per cent of the Mozambican population depends for their survival. “We believe in Mozambique’s potential to become a supplier of foodstuffs to the region”, she said. “In addition the country has an excellent strategic position expressed in ports such as Beira and Nacala, and the trade corridors that radiate from them”. She cited examples of successful peasant associations, which, after training programmes supported by USAID, have proved able to sell their produce on their market. The associations have also obtained better access to improved seeds, and to agricultural machinery, as well as a guaranteed market for their surplus crops.
US ambassador Douglas Griffiths said for his part that the US investment in Mozambique has been running at around 500 million dollars a year, much of it going towards strengthening the health sector.
Despite Mozambique’s high rates of economic growth, the country is still extremely poor. The US, Griffiths pledged, would therefore pay special attention to supporting policies that would create jobs, improve education and reduce poverty.