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May 29th, 2009
Innovative Approaches to Healthcare in Mozambique and Beyond
Lesson Overview

Funding for the educational materials was provided by The Overbrook Foundation.

For a printer-friendly version of this lesson, click here: (PDF) (RTF)

GRADES: 9-12

TIME ALLOTMENT: Two 45-minute class periods


Using segments from the PBS program: Wide Angle: Birth of a Surgeon, students learn about limited health resources in Mozambique and innovative approaches taken in Mozambique and other countries to combat health problems. In the Introductory Activity, students learn about the lack of doctors and adequate medical care in rural Mozambique. In the Learning Activity, students reflect upon the importance of improving health care for women and learn about an innovative program to train midwives and nurses to perform surgeries. In the Culminating Activity, students explore the roles governments around the world have played in improving health care for their populations.


Students will be able to:

  • Describe the existing rural health care in Mozambique.
  • Discuss the program initiated in Mozambique to train nurses and midwives to perform surgeries.
  • Describe the roles governments can play in improving health care.
  • Describe a health policy or system in a country other than the United States, which has led to an increase in access to health care and/or reduced a health problem in a country or region.


New York State Standards:

Standard SS2: World History

Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of major ideas, eras, themes, developments, and turning points in world history and examine the broad sweep of history from a variety of perspectives.

  • Key Idea: SS2.4: The skills of historical analysis include the ability to investigate differing and competing interpretations of the theories of history, hypothesize about why interpretations change over time, explain the importance of historical evidence, and understand the concepts of change and continuity over time.


  • Performance Indicator SS2.C.4A: Students identify historical problems, pose analytical questions or hypotheses, research analytical questions or test hypotheses, formulate conclusions or generalizations, raise new questions or issues for further investigation.
  • Performance Indicator  SS2.C.4D: Students analyze different interpretations of important events, issues, or developments in world history by studying the social, political, and economic context in which they were developed; by testing the data source for reliability and validity, credibility, authority, authenticity, and completeness; and by detecting bias, distortion of the facts, and propaganda by omission, suppression, or invention of facts.
  • Performance Indicator  SS2.alt.1A: Students study and communicate about different world cultures and civilizations, focusing on their accomplishments, contributions, values, beliefs and traditions.
  • Performance Indicator  SS2.alt.1D: Students explore the lifestyles, beliefs, traditions, rules and laws, and social/cultural needs and wants of people during different periods in history and in different parts of the world.
  • Performance Indicator  SS2.alt.1F: Students utilize media to become aware of current events.
  • Key Idea SS2.alt.1: Students will study world history, cultures and civilizations and the important contribution of individuals and groups.

Standard SS5: Civics, Citizenship, and Government

Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of the necessity for establishing governments; the governmental system of the United States and other nations; the United States Constitution; the basic civic values of American constitutional democracy; and the roles, rights, and responsibilities of citizenship, including avenues of participation.

  • Key Idea SS5.1: The study of civics, citizenship, and government involves learning about political systems; the purposes of government and civic life; and the differing assumptions held by people across time and place regarding power, authority, governance, and law.


  • Performance Indicator  SS5.C.1A: Students analyze how the values of a nation and international organizations affect the guarantee of human rights and make provisions for human needs.
  • Performance Indicator  SS5.C.1C: Students compare various political systems with that of the United States in terms of ideology, structure, function, institutions, decision-making processes, citizenship roles, and political culture.
  • Performance Indicator  SS5.C.1D: Students identify and analyze advantages and disadvantages of various governmental systems.
  • Performance Indicator  SS5.C.4E: Students participate in school/classroom/ community activities that focus on an issue or problem.
  • Performance Indicator  SS5.C.4F: Students prepare a plan of action that defines an issue or problem, suggests alternative solutions or courses of action, evaluates the consequences for each alternative solution or course of action, prioritizes the solutions based on established criteria, and proposes an action plan to address the issue or to resolve the problem.
  • Key Idea SS5.4: The study of civics and citizenship requires the ability to probe ideas and assumptions, ask and answer analytical questions, take a skeptical attitude toward questionable arguments, evaluate evidence, formulate rational conclusions, and develop and refine participatory skills.

Alternate Standards

  • Key Idea SS5.alt.1: Students will study government, civic life, and values and citizenship.
    • Performance Indicator  SS5.alt.1A: Students explore the basic purposes of government and the importance of civic life.
    • Performance Indicator  SS5.alt.1F: Students identify basic rights that students have and those that they will acquire as they age.
    • Performance Indicator  SS5.alt.1G: Students show a willingness to consider other points of view before drawing conclusions or making judgments.
    • Performance Indicator  SS5.alt.1H: Students participate in activities that focus on a classroom, school, or community issue or problem.

National Standards:

Historical Thinking Standards for Grades 5-12

  • Standard 3: Historical Analysis and Interpretation: The student engages in historical analysis and interpretation. Therefore, the student is able to:
    • Compare and contrast differing sets of ideas, values, personalities, behaviors, and institutions by identifying likenesses and differences.
    • Consider multiple perspectives of various peoples in the past by demonstrating their differing motives, beliefs, interests, hopes, and fears.
    • Analyze cause-and-effect relationships bearing in mind multiple causation including (a) the importance of the individual in history; (b) the influence of ideas, human interests, and beliefs; and (c) the role of chance, the accidental and the irrational.
    • Draw comparisons across eras and regions in order to define enduring issues as well as large-scale or long-term developments that transcend regional and temporal boundaries.
    • Challenge arguments of historical inevitability by formulating examples of historical contingency, of how different choices could have led to different consequences.
  • Standard 5: Historical Issues-Analysis and Decision-Making: The student engages in historical issues-analysis and decision-making. Therefore, the student is able to
    • Identify issues and problems in the past and analyze the interests, values, perspectives, and points of view of those involved in the situation.
    • Marshal evidence of antecedent circumstances and current factors contributing to contemporary problems and alternative courses of action.
    • Identify relevant historical antecedents and differentiate from those that are inappropriate and irrelevant to contemporary issues.
    • Evaluate alternative courses of action, keeping in mind the information available at the time, in terms of ethical considerations, the interests of those affected by the decision, and the long- and short-term consequences of each.
    • Formulate a position or course of action on an issue by identifying the nature of the problem, analyzing the underlying factors contributing to the problem, and choosing a plausible solution from a choice of carefully evaluated options.
    • Evaluate the implementation of a decision by analyzing the interests it served; estimating the position, power, and priority of each player involved; assessing the ethical dimensions of the decision; and evaluating its costs and benefits from a variety of perspectives.

National Standards in World History for Grades 5-12

  • World History/Era9 Standard 2A: The student understands how population explosion and environmental change have altered conditions of life around the world. Therefore, the student is able to:
    • Describe the global proliferation of cities and the rise of the megalopolis and assess the impact of urbanization on family life, standards of living, class relations, and ethnic identity. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships] 
    • Assess why scientific, technological, and medical advances have improved living standards for many yet hunger, poverty, and epidemic disease have persisted. [Evaluate major debates among historians]
  • World History/ Era 9 Standard 2C: The student understands how liberal democracy, market economies, and human rights movements have reshaped political and social life. Therefore, the student is able to analyze how feminist movements and social conditions have affected the lives of women in different parts of the world and compare women’s progress toward social equality, economic opportunity, and political rights in various countries. [Draw comparisons across regions]
  • World History/ Era 9 Standard 2E: The student understands major worldwide scientific and technological trends of the second half of the 20th century. Therefore, the student is able to assess the social and cultural implications of recent medical successes such as development of antibiotics and vaccines and the conquest of smallpox. [Interrogate historical data]
  • World History/ Era 9/ Standard 3A: The student understands major global trends since World War II. Therefore the student is able to:
    • Assess the degree to which both human rights and democratic ideals and practices have been advanced in the world during the 20th century. [Formulate historical questions] 
    • Analyze causes of economic imbalances and social inequalities among the world’s peoples and assess efforts made to close these gaps. [Employ quantitative analysis] 


Wide Angle: Birth of a Surgeon, selected segments

Rural Health Care in Mozambique

A look at hospitals in rural Mozambique.

Solving the Doctor Shortage in Mozambique

An overview of the doctor shortage in Mozambique and efforts underway to train midwives to perform surgeries during childbirth.

Making Women’s Health a Priority

Discussion with Dr. Margaret Chan on the need for improved health care for women.

Access the streaming video segments for this lesson at the Video Segments Page.


This site provides photos, information and video excerpts focusing on different health initiatives, including China’s barefoot doctors program in the 1960s and 70s.

This site provides a variety of statistics and other information related to the work of UNFPA, which “promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity.” This site includes the following documents which could be helpful resources for this lesson:

This page provides links to resources and information about Mozambique, child and maternal mortality and midwifery.

This website features health-related information, data and statistics from countries throughout the world. The “Making Pregnancy Safer” section provides information related to efforts to decrease maternal and infant mortality:


For the class:

  • Computers with internet access
  • Computer, projection screen and speakers (for class viewing of online/downloaded video segments)


Prior to teaching this lesson, you will need to:

Preview all of the video segments and websites used in the lesson.

Download the video clips used in the lesson to your classroom computer(s) or prepare to watch them using your classroom’s Internet connection.

Bookmark all websites which you plan to use in the lesson on each computer in your classroom. Using a social bookmarking tool such as or diigo (or an online bookmarking utility such as portaportal) will allow you to organize all the links in a central location.

Proceed to Lesson Activities.

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