- Malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies are major problems in Mozambique; 19% of rural children under five and 13% of urban children under five are underweight.
- 69% of children under five suffer from vitamin A deficiency in Mozambique, 75% are anemic and 36% are iron deficient due to a lack of dietary diversity.
- Mozambique is endemic in four Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) – schistosomiasis, lymphatic filariasis (LF), soil-transmitted helminths (STHs) and trachoma.
- Trachoma is a serious public health problem; a recent survey in northern Mozambique found as many as 32% of children under nine years old have active infections.
What HKI Is Doing
Helen Keller International began working in Mozambique in 1997; current programs include:
- Vitamin A Supplementation Read more
- Orange-Fleshed Sweet Potato Read more
- Food Fortification Read more
- Trachoma Control Read more
Vitamin A Supplementation
Working with our partners, Helen Keller International has taken a leadership role to reduce under-five mortality in Mozambique by helping the Ministry of Health (MISAU) provide vitamin A supplementation (VAS). In 2004, HKI piloted the first vitamin A supplementation program for children 6-59 months. In 2008, HKI helped to establish bi-annual National Child Health Weeks to ensure the distribution of vitamin A capsules, de-worming and routine vaccinations. In 2011, the twice yearly NCHWs achieved coverage of over 90%. In an effort to achieve universal coverage, HKI conducted Mozambique’s first post-event coverage survey in November 2010 to identify populations and areas that are not reached with VAS and follow up with targeted activities for these "hard to reach".
HKI has partnered with the International Potato Center (CIP) to introduce new variety of orange-fleshed sweetpotatoes (OFSP) that is hardy, tasty and has high vitamin A content as a strategy to reduce vitamin A deficiency and improve infant and young child nutrition. The initiative focuses on women who both grow the crop for their own households' consumption as well as sells it to generate additional income. HKI promotes the production and consumption of this nutritious food, and provides information and training to communities about basic nutrition and improved young child feeding practices.
A project implemented in Zambézia province from 2006 to 2009 by CIP, HKI and World Vision International targeted an estimated 12,000 households and tested the acceptance and use of new varieties of OFSP. This was the first time that a biofortified crop with a visibly different trait (orange color) had been deployed on such a large scale and resulted in improved vitamin A intake among young children and their mothers.
In September 2011, CIP and HKI launched the three-year Reaching Agents of Change (RAC) project to increase investment in OFSP in Mozambique through advocacy, training and targeted technical support. In 2012, HKI will expand its OFSP work to Tete province focusing efforts on strengthening the links between OFSP and community-based nutrition practices using ENA behavior change, particularly infant and young child feeding practices and maternal nutrition.
HKI is the executing agency for a National Food Fortification Program in Mozambique; the main objective is to increase the supply of high quality, affordable fortified products and increase consumer awareness/demand for these products in order to reduce morbidity and mortality in the Mozambican population, especially among women of reproductive age and children. Working in close collaboration with the private sector and partners, the project supports the fortification of vegetable oil with vitamin A, and wheat flour with iron, folic acid, B-complex vitamins, and zinc.
Improving the consumption of micronutrient-rich foods and mass fortification of staples is central to the Mozambican Government's strategy to reduce chronic malnutriton. The project is led by the National Committee for Food Fortification (CONFAM), which is chaired by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry with the Ministry of Health as Vice-Chair.
Integrated NTD control is a very young program in Mozambique although several control activities are taking place. HKI was the first organization in Mozambique to conduct trachoma mapping in Manica province and worked in partnership with the provincial ophthalmology department to identifiy and control of trachoma in communities and schools. In 2011, HKI conducted trachoma mapping in Niassa and Cabo Delgado provinces and is currently supporting the Ministry of Health with the development of a national trachoma action plan.