Over 3 million youngsters benefit from Mozambique’s child health week – UNICEF

27 May 2009

A five-day nationwide campaign in Mozambique has brought vitamins, vaccinations and nutrition screening to over 3 million children under the age of five, the latest effort to bring the country closer to reaching the globally agreed target of reducing child mortality by two-thirds by 2015, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported.

A five-day nationwide campaign in Mozambique has brought vitamins, vaccinations and nutrition screening to over 3 million children under the age of five, the latest effort to bring the country closer to reaching the globally agreed target of reducing child mortality by two-thirds by 2015, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported.

The Child Health Week held from 18 to 22 May complements two others held in 2008, which reached about 3.5 million young children, UNICEF said in a <news release.

“During this week, we expect that all parents take their children to the nearest health centre to receive this basic package of health services,” said UNICEF Mozambique’s Chief of Health and Nutrition, Roberto De Bernardi.

The initiative seeks to ensure that basic care reaches all children, including those who live in the most remote areas, which is not an easy task in Mozambique, where 70 per cent of the population lives in rural areas.

UNICEF noted that despite a reduction over the past five years, Mozambique still has one of the world’s highest mortality rates for children under five – 168 per 1,000 live births. Of an estimated 715,000 newborn children every year, about 69,000 will die in their first year, and an additional 29,000 will die before reaching age five.

Routine immunization coverage in Mozambique reaches up to 80 per cent of the population, but a big gap remains between rural and urban areas, with much lower coverage among children in the countryside.

Child Health Weeks provide a way to reach the families who may have been missed by routine immunization services, especially in rural areas where vulnerable populations may not have easy access to health care.

The initiative also addresses malnutrition, which is associated with half of all child deaths in the country, through nutrition screenings in which children with acute malnutrition are identified and referred to the nearest health centre for treatment.

UNICEF highlighted that “no effort was spared to spread the word about Child Health Week.” Television and radio spots were broadcast on major networks and community radio stations, and thousands of posters and banners were posted in churches, schools and hospitals.

In addition, once the week began, community activists across the country announced the campaign in streets, markets and other public places, while thousands more fanned out around the vaccination posts to bring in mothers and their children for immunization.

 

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