According to the 2007 Zambia Demographic and Health Survey (ZDHS), Zambia’s maternal mortality ratio was 591 per 100,000 live births. These statistics make Zambia one of the highest countries in Sub Sahara Africa with the highest morbidity and mortality rates.
In 2010, Zambia developed a Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) roadmap for reducing maternal, neonatal and child mortality.
With support from U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Department of Defense (DoD) and Peace Corps as well as global and multiple implementing partners, a “Saving Mothers, Giving Life” (SMGL) initiative for accelerated reduction of maternal, newborn and child mortality was launched.
This public-private partnership initiative was implemented in 18 of Zambia’s districts with the aim of addressing three major challenges contributing to maternal and new born deaths. These are delays; in decision to seek appropriate care, reaching care timely and receiving quality, respectful care at the health facility.
CIDRZ was among non-governmental organisations to implement the SMGL initiative from 2012 to 2016. In order to share the outcomes of the programme, CIDRZ with PEPFAR and CDC support hosted SMGL dissemination meetings in Lusaka, Eastern, Luapula and Southern provinces for various stakeholders.
CDC Deputy Associate Director for Programs, Dr. Mary Boyd said during the Eastern Province SMGL dissemination meeting that “when we launched the five year partnership in 2012, we set out ambitious goals of reducing maternal deaths by 50% and perinatal deaths by 30%. Although these goals were overly ambitious, we were right to set our sights high. Preliminary results showed a 45% reduction in maternal mortality from 2012 to 2016. This is a clear indication that a health systems strengthening approach can achieve remarkable results”.
And U.S. Peace Corps SMGL Program Manager, Ms. Sally-Rose Mwachilenga told the meeting in Luapula Province that “we are proud of SMGL’s accomplishments to-date and optimistic about the partnership’s long term impact on communities and families. As we close out the SMGL initiative, we must acknowledge that saving the lives of mothers and babies can only be sustained when there is zero tolerance for preventable deaths. we must strive to create systems that help us identify not just every maternal death but every perinatal and neonatal death because knowing why they died is the first step towards creating systems to curb these deaths.”