One of the pleasures of working here in Mozambique comes from working with a group of hard working and committed individuals in the Ministry of Health and the non government sector. Given the limited resources, Mozambique has achieved some remarkable successes, thanks in no small part due to the dedication of staff within the Ministry of Health.
To give a few quick examples, infant mortality has decreased from 147 children under the age of 1 dying before their 1st birthday in 1999 to 100 per 1000 by 2005. Obviously 1 in 10 children dying before the age of 1 is still a nightmare and there remains a huge amount to do - but it is important to recognise that for every 1000 children born, 50 more survive than was the case just 9 years ago. The number of children who survive until the age of 5 has increased, with the death rate in 1999 being 219 per 1000 children failing to reach the age of 5, reduced to 178 per 1000 in 2005.
Again, there is still a frightening number of deaths - many of which are from preventable illnesses such as diarrhoea, malaria, respiratory infections, often set against a background of malnutrition - but my point is that progress is being made, and there are committed health and other government and non government workers striving to make a difference.
I will post here a pamphlet titled ADDRESSING THE HEALTH WORKFORCE CRISIS IN MOZAMBIQUE: A CALL FOR SUPPORT (PDF) that the Ministry of Health produced for the UN High Level Summit in New York, which highlights one of the main challenges to achieving further progress - which is the lack of health workers, with limited numbers in training and limited resources to increase the total numbers of health workers in the sector.
Tackling the health workforce crisis is a DFID priority and something that I will continue to focus on over the coming months.