UNICEF Zimbabwe says the country has made great strides in the reduction of maternal mortality rates halving the scourge in less than ten years which also saw a decline in under five mortality.
In a 2021 annual report, the United Nations agency said poor health service coverage in remote and urban poor areas, remains low due to weak and underfunded health systems
“A big achievement for Zimbabwe, with assistance from UNICEF, has been maternal mortality rates more than halving in under 10 years, i.e., from 960 per 100,000 live births in 2010 to 462 in 2019 (Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2019). Under five mortality, meanwhile, also declined significantly in just five years, from 75 to 65 deaths per 1,000 live births between 2014 and 2019.
“However, the neo-natal mortality rate has remained practically unchanged since 1988, at 31 deaths per 1,000 live birth, due to malnutrition, AIDS, pneumonia, malaria and diarrhoea. Health service coverage, particularly in remote and urban poor areas, remains low due to weak and underfunded health systems, insufficient human resources and weak governance,” read the report
Meanwhile, the report said lack of nutrition influenced by insufficient knowledge were the leading cause of the health burden.
“Nutritional deficiency is a leading cause of the health burden. Poor dietary intake is influenced by inadequate knowledge, cultural-and-gender norms, insufficient quality nutrition services, and food legislation not complying with international standards. That said, stunting rates have decreased in the last years, from 31% in 2007 (as high as 39 per cent in some rural areas) but is now down to a national rate of 23.5 per cent,” UNICEF said
According to the report maternal antiretroviral treatment (ART) coverage in the country surpassed 90 percent with more than 83% of all villages (2.5 million households) having a trained Village Health Worker (VHW) up by 2% since 2020.