Originally scheduled to end in March 2022, our project will now have another year to complete our work. In October 2021, funder Global Affairs Canada (GAC) agreed to a no-cost extension of one year – we will not be receiving any additional money, but will have an extra year to complete and consolidate our activities. Like many other projects across the world, our work over the last 18 months was impeded by the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, the pandemic has impacted Mozambique considerably and the project experienced serious delays due to its ongoing impacts. We appreciate GAC’s flexibility in allowing us this extra year to complete interventions, and deepen longer-term sustainability.
Mozambique and the pandemic
In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic hit Mozambique. Even before Mozambique had reported any cases, the government acted swiftly to slow transmission expected from neighbouring South Africa by closing schools and, shortly after, declaring the first in a series of month-long States of Emergency (SOE) (Presidential Decree No. 11/2020, March 30, 2020). In September 2020 (quarter two of project Year Four), Mozambique transitioned from SOEs into a State of Public Calamity (SOPC) of indefinite duration. At present, the SOPC remains in effect and the pandemic continues to pose significant challenges to Mozambique’s health system and society at large. The total number of infections and deaths reported as of Oct. 15, 2021 was 151,080 (1,051 active) and 1,925 compared with 10,537 cases and 73 deaths reported a year prior. Mozambique is in the midst of a vaccination campaign and expects to reach all 17 million eligible adults by the end of 2021; however, its vaccine supply is donor dependent and therefore vulnerable to shortages and disruptions. In the meantime, numbers of infections and deaths continue to rise.
The Project’s response to the pandemic
The project’s own COVID-19 response was also prompt. As early as March 2020, changes took place at three levels: internal to the team; in our programming, particularly with communities and health workers; and in our partnership with DPSI, aimed at bolstering preventive measures and slowing the spread of the virus. We reassessed operations and developed ways of maintaining key activities and modifying others while keeping team members, partners, and beneficiaries safe; we scaled up prevention by reducing group interactions and increasing COVID-19 education and incorporated COVID-19 prevention as a cross-cutting theme across all our programming.
Into 2021, COVID-19 continued to create considerable delays in several areas of project implementation. Delays were caused by the need to limit the size and frequency of face-to-face gatherings, transportation and movement due to restrictions – which affected both community and health system activities – and an overall economic slowdown within Mozambique, which impacted the procurement of goods. The pandemic also negatively affected research by restricting the time and availability of our research partners in the health system.
In spite of these delays, however, project participants in both Mozambique and Canada continued to work in a collaborative and dedicated way to implement our activities.
Our plans for the year
Over the coming year, our project interventions will complete and document our work of creating model maternal care communities in and around the new health facilities, developing referral pathway/care pathways in 20 partner communities, and empowering women, and girls, and youth more broadly through community mobilization, community economic development, and sexual and reproductive health and rights programming.
We will complete research projects and share what is learned. Throughout, we will work and dialogue with our partner DPSI about the policy and practice implications of our work, to internalize and possibly institutionalize required changes for strengthening sexual, reproductive maternal and newborn health in Inhambane province.
 Boletim Diário Nº 577, 15/10/2021 and Boletim Diário Nº 212, 15/10/2020, MISAU.
 “Mozambique: Half a Million Doses of Covid-19 Vaccines Arrive,” 02/05/2021, AIM.