“More than 28,000 cases of cholera have now been recorded in Mozambique. This is ten times the figure reported at the start of February, and more than half of cases are among children.
“Case numbers continue to increase, putting children and families at ever more risk. And now, cases of malaria and diarrhoea, other leading killers of children in the country, are also on the rise.
“This comes at a time when children and families are still reeling from the impacts of Cyclone Freddy, which destroyed more than 100 health facilities and more than 1000 schools, disrupting the learning of almost half a million children. Around 250 water points and six urban water systems have also been damaged or destroyed, cutting around 300,000 people off from clean water.
“Food insecurity presents a major risk to children in the country: more than 390,000 hectares of land have been affected by Cyclone Freddy and flooding.
“Already, across the country each year more than a quarter of a million young children experience severe malnutrition, increasing their risk of death ten-fold. The nature of the current emergency will certainly increase this number – fields have been destroyed by cyclones and floods just as the harvest is beginning. For a child with severe acute malnutrition, a case of cholera can be tantamount to a death sentence. We could see 300,000 or more severely malnourished young children in Mozambique this year, many of whom are at risk of dying if they don’t get treatment.
“Young children who have gone without food rapidly drop a lot of body weight, often exacerbated by bouts of infectious diarrhoea, until they become so thin and frail, they look skeletal. It is a distressing sight. Even more distressing is the knowledge that it is excruciatingly painful for the child whose body is battling the condition. Without lifesaving treatment, it is a battle that many lose.
“And yet there is evidence that with funds and support, results occur: in some areas of the country, cases are now stabilising, due to a strong response by the Government, with support from UNICEF and UN partners, focusing on vaccination, prevention, treatment, water, sanitation and hygiene, and awareness raising activities. UNICEF has so far received and distributed more than 2.4 million doses of oral cholera vaccine; distributed of emergency health kits with sufficient essential medicines for more than 200,000 people; and reached half a million people with emergency water trucking in the past three months.
“Despite such successes, and although substantial funds are coming in from partners including Canada, the Global Partnership for Education, Sweden, Norway, the European Commission, the Swiss Development Corporation, Germany, USAID, FCDO and Korea, a funding gap of US$71.6m remains for UNICEF’s response to cholera and the impacts of Cyclone Freddy and flooding. This would enable UNICEF to reach a total of 2.7 million children and their caregivers with direct services and support, and address the serious challenges facing children and families in the country.”
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).