Paidamoyo Chipunza Senior Reporter
The country’s social service status has greatly improved in the past five years, latest Government statistics have shown.
Preliminary results of the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey launched in Harare yesterday revealed the country’s nutritional status, water and sanitation, maternal and child health, education and child protection, are among the key indicators that improved between 2009 and 2014.
The survey, designed by UNICEF and was carried out by the Zimstat, showed that the number of women who die while giving birth has gone down from 960 per 100 000 to 614 per 100 000.
The number of mothers who practice exclusive breastfeeding also increased from 20 percent in 2009 to 41 percent.
Full immunisation coverage has risen from about 31 percent in 2009 to the current 69 percent.
The number of women who visit antenatal care has gone up from 57 percent to 70 percent while post-natal care for mothers, which was 27 percent in 2010, now stands at 78 percent.
About 99 percent of pupils enrolled for primary education complete the whole primary level, compared to the previous 44 percent. About 70 percent of the country’s population has access to safe drinking water.
However, the latest statistics also show that the country still has a lot to do on child protection, with only 32 percent of children under 5 years having their births registered.
An average of 33 percent of women between 20 and 49 years were married before 18 years of age.
Furthermore, the proportion of under-five births who were reported registered has dropped from about 38 percent to about 32 percent in 2014. On nutrition, 11,2 percent of children were under-weight, 27 percent were stunted (too short for their weight and age), 3,3 percent were wasted while 3,6 percent were overweight.
Health and Child Care Secretary Dr Gerald Gwinji welcomed the latest statistics, saying they would go a long way in shaping Government priorities.
Dr Gwinji said the results showed that Zimbabwe was in the right direction on improving the social service system. “The trends are indeed encouraging. What we now need to do is to work on issues of improving that trend.
“We now need to work on issues of quality and equity,” he said.
Dr Gwinji said the survey results were going to be the pillars of his Ministry’s national health strategy where they would help to focus on the lagging indicators.
UNICEF representative, Mr Reza Hossain, challenged Government to build on the achievements and sustain the gains.
“These gains cannot be sustained and further gains cannot be made if we lose our focus on those strategic choices that have delivered positive results,” he said.
The survey was done under the auspices of the Zimbabwe United Nations Development Assistance Framework (ZUNDAF) jointly co-ordinated by the Office of the President and Cabinet and the UN resident co-ordinator.
It was funded by the European Union.
Zimstat director-general Mr Mutasa Dzinotizei said the detailed report was expected to come out in the last part of the year.