Literacy vital for the protection of women from HIV and unwanted pregnancies

Illiteracy is hindering women in Mozambique from preventing unwanted pregnancies and HIV leading to a higher mortality rate for mothers, a health specialist has said.

Illiteracy is hindering women in Mozambique from preventing unwanted pregnancies and HIV leading to a higher mortality rate for mothers, a health specialist has said.

During the Mozambique Community Radios National Forum international conference in Maputo on Monday (December 3), Lidia Chongo, Mozambique’s deputy national director for public health, said child mortality statistics in Mozambique were very pleasing but mother mortality rates left much to be desired.

“The government set mother and child health on the top of its agenda and there is great political will but illiteracy levels need to be addressed as a woman who is not educated won’t know how to prevent herself from HIV/AIDS [and] can’t understand child health issues. We also see a lot of early pregnancies; a situation which leaves us with a lot of babies having babies,” Chongo said.

Chongo said a lot of women in Mozambique who have complications leading death during child delivery are poor.

She added that abortions in Mozambique also contribute to the high mortality rate as they were done in very poor hygienic environments, putting women at risk of potentially fatal infections.

“[Deaths from] post delivery haemorrhage may be due to malaria and HIV, however abortions are done in very bad health conditions so infections derived from these can set in, and the abortions done in these conditions account for

10 cases of admissions, out of which 11% of women die,” she said.

Chongo added that there was also a bad traditional practice in Mozambique in which women who have complications during child delivery are forced to admit infidelity.

Ericino de Salema, a lawyer, journalist and programme director at IBIS, said many Mozambicans in rural areas were not accessing information due to a lack of radio reception and caused laughter when he added that many still believe Samora Machel [President of Mozambique who died in 1986] is still alive.

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