14 November 2016

Mozambique: Efforts Underway to Prevent Deaths Among Women and Children

Maputo — Mozambique is making efforts to eradicate, by 2030, deaths among women, children and adolescents that are caused by preventable illnesses, a target that is in line with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

To this end adolescents from across Mozambique are attending a meeting in Maputo of the Global Financing Facility (GFF). This is an international partnership which, according to its website, “acts as an innovative financing pathfinder to accelerate the efforts to reach the 2030 goals for women's, children's, and adolescents' health”.

The initiative also “finances high impact, evidence- and rights-based interventions to achieve measurable and equitable result”, and intends to “build inclusive, resilient systems and increasing domestic financing over time to sustain the gains and ensure that all women, children, and adolescents have access to essential healthcare, contributing to universal health coverage”.

The National Director of Public Health, Francisco Mbofana, told reporters that Mozambique is a beneficiary of the facility, “but to mobilize the resources we need to develop what we call ‘investment cases', which implies showing the range of high impact interventions, and their costs, and then demonstrating how we will measure these impacts”.

With the participation of adolescents, the meeting will identify those high impact interventions that can bring rapid results, and can be implemented in places where the Health Ministry is confident they will make a great difference.

Mbofana noted that Mozambique still has high rates of maternal and neonatal mortality. These rates are not falling at the same pace as the child (under five) mortality rate.

The analysis of maternal mortality, he added, shows that 20 per cent of maternal deaths occur among girls under 20 years old. They are clearly related to the high levels of child marriage and early pregnancy.

A further problem is the large number of premature births. Mbofana said that about 22,000 babies are born prematurely in Mozambique every year. He believed that many premature births could be avoided if pregnant women visited health units in good time, so that they could receive all the care that is available.

Simply picking up a mosquito net from the nearest health unit, and sleeping under it, could prevent infection by malaria which is known to be a cause of premature births. Other factors which can provoke premature births include high blood pressure and syphilis. These too can be cured or avoided.

“Our appeal is for women to visit the health units, in time, so that they can receive the medical interventions that will reduce the risk of premature births”, said Mbofana.

Children born prematurely are at risk of death, because their lungs are not yet fully formed. This week, Mbofana said, health workers will receive a course on treating premature babies, notably through applying medication that will speed up the maturing of their lungs, thus giving them a better chance of survival

The GFF pilot activities began in just four countries - the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania. Mozambique is one of eight countries added at the official launch of the GFF in July 2015. The others were Bangladesh, India, Cameroon, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Uganda.

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