It is no surprise that the financial resources for the health sector in Mozambique are not enough. But how much is there? Where does it come from and how is it distributed among the different levels of the National Health System? What are the outcomes this money buys?
A big crowd of people, mainly woman with their young children, is gathered in Phacasse village in Changara district. The drums are beating wild rhythms while the mothers line up to have their children vaccinated, supplemented with Vitamin A and deworming and screened for acute undernutrition.
‘I’m highlighting all of this because I think Fatima’s life might have been saved last week if a community health worker had been within reach… Time is of the essence if more lives are to be saved.’ Emanuele Capobianco, Chief of Health & Nutrition at UNICEF Mozambique, calls for the Community Health Worker programme to remain a top priority for the country.
Last Friday Aida received a phone call from her daughter Dulce asking for help. Aida is an intelligent, hardworking Mozambican woman in her 40s who lives in Maputo and looks after my two little children when they are not at school. Dulce lives in Zambezia, the poorest province in Mozambique, and her one year-old daughter Fatima had a fever. Dulce asked Aida what to do. Aida advised her daughter to wait until the next day, and then seek help. Twelve hours later, on Saturday morning, a second call came in: Fatima had died, most likely of malaria.
The first girl vaccinated in Mozambique with HPV vaccine.
Yesterday, for the first time, a Mozambican girl was vaccinated against the Human Papilloma Virus to protect her from the risk of developing cervical cancer in the future. The First Lady and the Minister of Health of Mozambique officially launched the HPV demonstration project in Manhiça District among other authorities and hundreds of cheering school children.
Those of us who have worked in public health in the last 20 years or more still remember what a landmark the World Bank Report 1993 was. For the first time a financial institution like the Bank built the case that the resources put into the health sector were not “expenditures” but “investment”. That was the starting point for a different relationship between public health professionals in ministries of health and economist colleagues in ministries of finances.
Last week Tete Province kick started its planning for 2015. During 5 days, district and provincial officials focused their efforts into producing the basis for the 2015 Economic and Social Plan.
There is not much new in terms of priorities. The main problems of the province coincide with the ones of the country: low vaccination coverage, high percentage of malnourished children, high numbers of malaria cases, low coverage of TARV-paediatric, etc
UNICEF Mozambique, in association with the international awarded Magnum Photos, recently launched a campaign to raise awareness about the rights of children. The challenges faced by children in Mozambique are raised in 6 beautifully produced videos filmed by different Magnum photographers.
The GAVI Team presenting at the Health Partners Group
These last few days a team from GAVI, the Geneva based Global Alliance Vaccine Initiative, visited Mozambique. GAVI is a major contributor to the drop in child mortality in the country. It is doing so by providing important financial support to Mozambique for immunization and introduction of new vaccines: in April 2014 Mozambique introduced the vaccine against pneumococcus to prevent pneumonia. In 2015 the rotavirus vaccine to prevent diarrhoea will also be launched nationwide. Diarrhoea and pneumonia are among the biggest killers of children under 5 in Mozambique, so the impact of these vaccines is enormous.