Maputo — The number of deaths in Mozambique from killer diseases such as diarrhoea and malaria has declined significantly over the past year, Health Minister Nazira Abula told the country's parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on Wednesday, thus contradicting opposition claims that the health service is falling to pieces.
The parliamentary group of the rebel movement Renamo, alleging that there is a total lack of resources in the health sector, had demanded the government provide an exhaustive assessment of the situation.
Renamo clearly did not like Abdula's response - which was, in essence, that the situation is improving.
Thus, in the current rainy season, between October 2017 and February 2018, 255,675 cases of diarrhoea had been recorded and 69 of these patients had died. This was a reduction of 19 per cent in the number of cases and 54 per cent in the number of deaths from diarrhoea in the same period in the 2016/2017 rainy season.
As for malaria, although there had been an increase in the same period of nine per cent in the number of diagnosed cases, the number of malaria deaths had fallen by 39 per cent.
Renamo deputy Abiba Aba declared that the health units do not even have paracetamol to give patients, and “there are no technical staff, no nurses, much less any doctors”.
The statistics produced by Abdula gave the lie to such claims. She noted that the target in the government's five year programme was to increase the number of health personnel from 94 to 113.3 per 100,000 inhabitants between 2014 and 2019. That target can be reached, since the figure in 2017 was 109.1 health professionals per 100,000 inhabitants.
The number of doctors per 100,000 inhabitants, Abdula said, had risen from 4.9 in 2014 to eight in 2017. Looked at in a slightly different way, the statistics show that in 2014 there was one doctor for every 20,611 inhabitants, but in 2017 this ratio had come down to one doctor for every 14,728 inhabitants.
As for medicines, Abdula said that essential kits of medicines are distributed to all hospitals and health centres, and contracts have been signed for key vaccines to cover all of 2018 and part of 2019. The availability of medicines for HIV, malaria and tuberculosis is fully guaranteed up to the end f 2018.
Abdula admitted that her Ministry still faces a problem of theft of medicines, which are diverted for illegal sale on the informal markets. But thanks to stepped up inspections and collaboration with the police, the customs service and the municipal authorities three cases of the theft of medicines and 32 of the illegal sale of pharmaceutical products had been notified. In connection with these cases, 24 disciplinary and criminal proceedings had been initiated against 24 staff of the National Health Service.
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