Steady as she goes
Minister Garrido and me at the presentation of the sector performance review
In my last post, on the 10 March, I was getting ready for the CCS policy discussion, which was due to be held on the 11 March. However, there had been a red alert flood warning announced on the 9 March and on the 10 the Minister of Health postponed the meeting to visit the areas under threat. Fortunately, by the 11 of March the flood situation was under control, with 13,000 people at risk having been moved to higher ground and the threat of floods diminishing. By the time of our meeting last week, things were well under control and attention could focus completely on assessing the health sector performance in 2009.
In the past, when this meeting has been held in the Ministry of Health, we have all been packed like sardines in a meeting room for an interesting, but uncomfortable day of discussions. This year however, a hotel meeting room with greater space gave a round table feel to the meeting, contributing to a very positive meeting. Above is a photo of me sitting next to the Minister for the discussion on the sector’s performance.
I mentioned in a previous post this CCS would be an opportunity to discuss the Annual Joint Evaluation of the sector’s progress in 2009 (known as the ACA). Well, the ACA report was finalised in time and the meeting allowed for a useful discussion of the key findings.
The health sector was found to have performed better in 2009 than it did in 2008, and overall, partners were satisfied with the year’s achievements. However, when a country faces the types of challenges that Mozambique faces, with limited funding to confront a high disease burden and improving but still high rates of infant and child mortality, there is no room for complacency.
Here I am with Minister Garrido, having handed over the focal partner role
Progress has been good in extending access to child health services and tackling malaria, with spaying and bed nets contributing to reduced child mortality from malaria. There has also been a further expansion in access to anti-retroviral drugs for people living with HIV/AIDS. Another area where there has been good progress is in expanding the number of health workers, as well as making sure they are better distributed with more workers being posted to the areas that are the least well served. However, considerable challenges remain, and efforts made to increase services for antenatal and delivery care have not resulted in any further improvements in access to skilled attendance at birth, with only 55% of women having a skilled attendant present during childbirth.
Overall the mood was positive. Minister Paulo Ivo Garrido, who was appointed for a second term as Minister of Health, was pleased with the constructive nature of the meeting, and acknowledged that this is in part due to the hard work being done in the various working groups which support the Ministry of Health's work. This was my last meeting as the focal partner for the health sector, and the Minister thanked DFID for its role. Here I am on the left with the Minister at the end of a successful meeting.