A choral group performing songs related to gender equality at the Strategy for Gender Inclusion in the Health Sector, 2018-2023 launch ceremony

Mozambique Ministry of Health launched its Strategy for Gender Inclusion in the Health Sector, 2018-2023.

The strategy is anchored on the premise that receiving health care is a fundamental human right of every citizen. Yet, many are denied the enjoyment of this right due to several reasons, including socio-cultural impediments as well as inadequate health services catering for all segments of the populations.

According to the Health Ministry, many women, for instance, still need to get permission from their partners to access the health services. The inequalities of power between men and women, legitimized by cultural and social beliefs, reproduce situations such as premature marriages and forced unions that result in unwanted pregnancies. This limitation contributes, albeit indirectly to the high rates of maternal and neonatal mortality.

Speaking during the strategy launch ceremony held in Maputo, in November 2018, Deputy Health Minister, Leopoldo da Costa said that both men and women are victims of prejudices which prevent them from accessing health care. “Although women are the most affected by cultural and social factors that limits their access to the health units, on the flip side, men are increasingly victimized by their own masculinity prejudices preventing them from seeking health care in a timely manner, making them vulnerable to illnesses that could easily be preventable or cured”, he explained.

“The result of these negative attitudes is death from preventable diseases like malaria, tuberculosis and noncommunicable diseases such as cardiovascular problems, diabetes, cancer, among others. The aim of the strategy is overcome these hindrances”, said the Deputy Minister, adding that “men and women have equal rights before the law. Therefore, the existing public services in the country ought not to exclude anyone, not least based on their gender," he stressed.

Speaking on behalf of the United Nations (UN) System during the launch, Djamila Cabral, World Health Organization (WHO) Representative in Mozambique noted that the inclusion of gender and human rights is indispensable for the improvement of health indicators.

“Aware of this imperative, the UN supports Member States to promote gender-sensitive health systems”, she said.

According to, the UN Representative, health systems should be able to recognize, understand and transform gender norms in behaviors that favor access to services provided in health facilities. Gender inequality harms the physical and mental health of millions of men and women around world.

She suggested that to address this problem there must be a strong coordination and mobilization of all segments of society for the promotion of the rights of women and men access to health. "In health, gender equality refers to equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities for all people to remain healthy and free from disease. It is a fundamental human right”.

The strategy envisages that in the next few years more than US $ 10 million will be invested in the institutional development of health units and training of health professionals so that they can meet the challenges of gender equity. Apart from WHO, UNDP, UN Women and UNAIDS are among other UN agencies supporting the strategy.

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