Ambassador’s speech at Comité de Coordenação Sectorial (CCS) do Ministério da Saúde

Speech from CCS Meeting


Your Excellency Dra. Nazira Abdula, Minister of Health,

Your Excellency Dr. Mouzinho Saide, Vice – Minister of Health,

Honorable representatives of the Embassies and United Nations organizations supporting the health sector here today,

Senhoras e Senhores,

Good morning everyone, and thank you for joining us for this important event.

A year ago the United States Government assumed the role of ‘primary contact’ for the Ministry of Health on behalf of the Health Partners Group.  I can say without any reservation that the experience has been as exciting, challenging, and rewarding as we envisioned it would be.  We are honored that the Ministry of Health and the health partners group gave us this opportunity to fulfill our pledge to all of you to advance our common goals towards a healthy and productive society in Mozambique.

First, let me offer my sincere appreciation for our partner in this effort, Minister Abdula and her team. Minister Abdula has been clear about the challenges that the health sector has faced and frank about the Ministry’s need to address them. Together, and with the support of you in this room and those who work with you, we have responded to these challenges, streamlined our working relationship, and have improved health outcomes for Mozambicans.

It is no secret that the last twelve months have been exceptionally challenging for the health sector and, indeed, for all of Mozambique.  The revelations about secret government loans; the suspension in donor assistance, and the resulting macroeconomic crisis caused upheaval and uncertainty. For example, there is ongoing anxiety about payments for basic medical supplies.  The overall impact on the health sector remains somewhat unknown and we are very much looking forward to the Ministry’s updates later this morning.

The effects of the macroeconomic crisis were compounded by the drought and by renewed conflict.  It is important to recognize the severe consequences from the conflict on access and use of health care services and on reducing geographic disparities.  Citizens are far more likely to seek traditional options in their communities than risk their lives and the lives of their children by traveling to obtain vaccinations, institutional deliveries, and anti-retroviral treatment.  The ongoing effects of the drought have also negatively influenced the health and well-being of more than 2 million Mozambicans.

Fortunately, there are positive signs.  The drought is over.  There is a cease fire, which should become lasting peace so that we can resume making progress for the development of the country.  The audit of the loans and other steps taken by the government offer hope for better governance, accountability, and transparency.

And even during the most challenging times, the health sector has been able to accomplish real change and genuine progress, with the support of the partners.

Mozambique has shown progress in implementing its strategies and plans related to child and maternal health, as evidenced by progress in institutional delivery rates and reduction of infant mortality.  On behalf of the health partners, I am happy to congratulate Mozambique on these achievements.  However, increases in early pregnancy and in fertility rates among young girls remain deeply worrying. With such a young population, Mozambique has endless development potential. Adolescent health is indeed a priority for the country.

Our partnership with the Ministry has grown stronger. The Health Partners Group revised its strategy in order to be more supportive of the Ministry’s priorities, particularly in strengthening the health system.  The technical working groups developed plans that resulted in clear and efficient collaboration.  This work enabled the Partner Group to focus on how to respond to sector priorities rather than on process.  Our engagement with the Ministry increased, to even daily at times, as we worked together.  This translated to a better, more open dialogue with the Permanent Secretary and of course, with the Minister and Vice-Minister.  We welcome the strong leadership from the Permanent Secretary and the Directorate of Planning and Cooperation in strengthening this dialogue.

These efforts to coordinate, clarify and respond better were not merely for harmonization or aid effectiveness.  They helped Mozambique to respond to a number of priorities and needs that surfaced in 2016.

For example, the Ministry and the partners worked together in building the Investment Case for the Reproductive Maternal Neonatal Child and Adolescent Health for the newly formed Global Financing Facility. We will hear more about it later this morning.  The collective work on the Global Fund proposals is another strong example.  And so is the well-coordinated response to the drought, to the cyclone, and to the polio situation.  Together, we developed a ‘road map’ for the Global Health Security Agenda.  We hope these investments will substantially increase the expansion of the national HIV, malaria, and TB programs.

Partners were active in other priority areas: the initiation and implementation of the country’s first national mosquito net campaign; the adoption of new HIV/AIDS treatment guidelines and drug distribution policy; and contributions to a multi-sectoral nutrition strategy.  These achievements were made possible by support for the strengthening of the health system.  This support comes in many forms. It can be direct support for community health workers. Or it can be technical assistance to the supply chain or to the health management information system.   It also comes from the efforts from many of the health partners to support the Ministry’s reform agenda for improved public financial management and accountability.

Looking to the future, one of the objectives of this meeting is to help us identify our priorities. A few critical areas, which the Ministry has already recognized, stand out.

First, we need to redouble our efforts to strengthen the supply chain for medicines. As health programs continue to grow to meet the needs of Mozambique’s population, the logistics system for medicines faces increasing pressure. Ensuring that the right medicines and supplies are available in the right quantity with good quality when and where they are needed will require significant investment.

Second, we need to fully advance the implementation of the reform agenda:  the pace of change occurring in Mozambique and the overall development cooperation landscape demands reform.

Finally, we need to ensure continuity of existing partnership mechanisms, while being creative and innovative in seeking new ones.

In conclusion I would like to say — I know we have accomplished much together, and I know that we have areas in which we can improve.  I encourage everyone in this room to continue to communicate frankly, frequently, and effectively as our partnership moves forward.  We are united for the same overarching objective: to improve the health and well-being of the Mozambican people.  I wish to thank once again the Minister and her team of National Directors for their leadership and for their commitment to providing the health services Mozambique needs for an inclusive economy and social prosperity for all.

Thank you.