A young child’s survival depends on the mother’s health and education as well as the conditions in which the child is born.
In Mozambique, improved access to family planning and antenatal care, especially in rural areas, is helping save women’s lives and that of their children. Maternal mortality has dropped to 408 per 100,000 live births and infant mortality to 124 per 1,000 live births.
Many women and children continue to be vulnerable. Only 48 per cent of births are attended by a skilled health worker and 70 per cent of pregnant women are anaemic, a condition associated with low birth-weight babies.
Women make up 58 per cent of Mozambicans living with HIV and AIDS and a tiny fraction of HIVpositive pregnant women are receiving antiretroviral drugs to reduce the risk of passing the virus to their babies.
Today, Mozambican children are more likely to live beyond their fifth birthday than twenty years ago but mortality rates remain high. Every day, 320 children under five are lost to preventable and treatable diseases, such as malaria, respiratory infections and diarrhoea. AIDS-related illnesses are quickly catching up.
A child’s chance of surviving disease is strongly correlated with a mother’s level of education. For example, 97 per cent of children whose mothers have secondary or higher education are given oral rehydration therapy – an effective means of treating dehydration resulting from diarrhoea – compared to 65 per cent of children whose mother did not go to school.
Diarrhoea is a major cause of child mortality and a result of the population’s poor access to safe and clean water and adequate sanitation. Malnutrition is a major underlying cause of child mortality. Around 41 per cent of children are chronically malnourished. Two-thirds of children aged 6–59 months are vitamin A deficient, a condition that makes them more susceptible to infectious diseases.