Children study together at a primary school in Maganja da Costa, one of the poorest districts in Zambezia Province. UNICEF works with the government to create ‘child-friendly’ schools, which call on all sectors – education, health, water and sanitation, social welfare and communication – to help improve students’ retention and performance, even in the poorest areas. For example, safe water points and separate latrines boost girls’ attendance.
In 2006 in Mozambique, children struggle to survive in the face of poverty, food shortages, natural disasters and multiple health threats, even as the nation continues to feel the effects of a 17-year civil conflict that ended in 1992. Over half of the countrys 20 million people do not have access to health care, and more than 70 per cent of those in rural areas lack access to clean water or improved sanitation. Mozambique has one of the highest under-five mortality rates in the world. Malaria is the number-one child killer, and is also a significant factor in up to 30 per cent of maternal deaths. The national HIV/AIDS prevalence rate stands at 16 per cent and continues to rise. As many as 100,000 children under 15 are living with HIV/AIDS and approximately 350,000 children have been orphaned by the disease. UNICEF supports the Governments prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) programme, which offers free antiretroviral (ARV) treatment to pregnant women and newborns. Since the programme began in 2002, some 250,000 pregnant women have received counselling and testing at sites throughout the country. UNICEF also supports HIV awareness and prevention training; other health education; and general support, including immunization and distribution of insecticide-treated bednets, at hospitals, community health posts and mobile clinics,. In the area of education, UNICEF is working with the government to rehabilitate schools, including building safe water and sanitation facilities to encourage attendance, especially among girls.