UNICEF's "2009 State of the World's Children Report" finds more than 10 percent of Mozambican babies will die before their first birthday -- one of the world's highest infant mortality rates. The main cause of death is malaria, followed closely by HIV/AIDS, according to the report. Advertisement
However, the country has made some strides toward better child health, said Dr. Roberto De Bernardi of UNICEF Mozambique. A key area of improvement has been the adoption of the Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses, a holistic approach. "This has involved upgrading the skills of health workers, strengthening the health system, improving family and community health practices, and treating neo-natal illnesses and HIV/AIDS," he said.
Roughly 10,000 of Mozambique's pediatric HIV patients, or 15 percent, are receiving antiretroviral treatment, up from just 500 in 2004. The uptick is largely due to the availability of the dry blood-spot test to detect HIV. This method can be used to test infants following birth; prior to a few years ago, a Mozambican mother would have to wait for her baby to be 18 months of age before testing for HIV antibodies.
Most children with access to ARVs live in urban areas, with around 6,000 in the capital of Maputo. Access to care in rural areas remains a problem, with 60 percent of the country's population living more than 30 minutes from the nearest health care clinic. Rural facilities tend to have limited drug supplies and staff who are overburdened and underskilled.
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.