Carmelo Hospital is located in the city of Chowke (Mozambique), a rural area of the Gaza Province, 120 km from the capital Xai-Xai and 210 km from the capital Maputo.


The Chokwe District is located south of the Gaza Province. Its total area is 2600 squared km and according to the 2007 census, there are 37,753 households, corresponding to a population of 187,363 inhabitants, of whom 56% are women. It corresponds to a 32% decrease in the population compared to the 1997 census. Chokwe’s population is very heterogeneous, being composed of the local population along with immigrants from the recent civil war and the floods in the year 2000 in addition to those who leave the outskirts in search of better living conditions.

Socio-Economic Data

Agriculture is the main economic activity, involving more than 80% of the active population and it is dependent on rainfall for irrigation. The staple crops are tomatoes, corn, sweet potatoes, beans, cassava, rice and vegetables. Besides that, the Chokwe District is one of the mean producers of cattle and goats in the country.

Houses are built mainly with local materials (stakes, clay, reeds), being that Chokwe is the city that has better housing conditions in the district and that 22% of the houses are made of proper building materials.

The current electricity coverage reaches 40% while the water coverage is 60%. The Gaza District generally uses water from underground wells and the district sewer network is weak and insufficient to meet the needs of the population.
Education is still very poor, with a literacy rate of only 45% of the population, yet they have made great efforts to implement primary, secondary and even higher level education.

The unemployment rate is about 40% so people need to find an alternative economic activity through informal trade and crafts (i.e. raising small animals etc). Most of the young people emigrate to neighboring South Africa looking for work in mines or other sectors and many women buy merchandise for resale in Mozambique. The instability of employment and precarious life directly impacts the growing rate of theft, violence, drugs, prostitution and illicit trades.

In the District, the poverty index is very high which coupled with the lack of education are some of the contributing factors to the high rate of HIV transmission and the continued increase in sero-prevalence. There is still a strong misunderstanding of the disease from local beliefs and traditions thus many patients resort to Health Services at an advanced stage of the disease and therefore increasing the number of deaths, orphans, widows and social problems.