"A Promise Renewed" road map launched in Zambia
UNICEF Deputy Executive Director commends Zambia’s high-level support for APR
LUSAKA, Zambia (By Patrick Slavin/UNICEF Zambia) -- On an official visit to Zambia, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Geeta Rao Gupta spoke at the launch of the Government’s Road map for Accelerating Reduction of Maternal, Newborn and Child Mortality 2013-2016, an event that received high level political support from the First Lady and the Minister and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Community of Development, Mother and Child Health.
“Under the banner of A Promise Renewed, Zambia has set a target of reaching an under-five mortality rate of 20 per 1,000 live births by 2035. You can achieve your goal, if we work together. No one government ministry, no one development actor, and no one individual can do it alone,” Ms. Rao Gupta said in remarks to an audience of nearly 200 A Promise Renewed supporters, including Government and civil society leaders. “In Zambia, A Promise Renewed provides a solid platform for bringing together the Scaling Up Nutrition, Reaching Every District for immunization…and many other initiatives that focus on hygiene and sanitation, safe water, and the other areas that impact the lives of children and mothers.
“With its commitment to inclusive growth, as highlighted in successive national strategies, including the sixth National Development Plan for 2011-2015, and renewed political commitment to the survival and well-being of women and children, the Government of the Republic of Zambia is poised to deliver on its promise to give every child the best possible start in life. UNICEF couldn’t be more pleased to join you on this historic journey,” said Ms. Rao Gupta. “And we look forward to celebrating with you when Zambia meets its goals.”
Since being one of over 80 nations that sent a high level delegation to the launch of A Promise Renewed in Washington, DC, last year, the Zambian Ministry of Community of Development, Mother and Child Health with support from UNICEF, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and many other A Promise Renewed partners worked tirelessly to complete the Government’s roadmap, a detailed equity-based analysis of which population groups bear the brunt of preventable child and maternal deaths in Zambia.
“The road map is also costed and it finds that Government and partners need to mobilize about US$700 million, or US$12.22 per capita, over a 4 year-period so we can reach the ambitious goals of reducing child mortality by about 39 per cent in both rural and urban areas by 2016. Further, maternal mortality will be also reduced by 28 per cent. The road map aims at saving an average of 27,000 lives -- 26,000 under-five children’s lives and 1,000 mothers’ lives -- every year,” said UNICEF Zambia Representative Dr. Iyorlumun J. Uhaa. “And UNICEF is fully committed to support Government and our partners to achieve these goals.”
The Hon. Minister of Community Development, Mother and Child Health, Dr. Joseph Katema, MP, said, “The launch of the MNCH (Maternal, Newborn and Child Health) road map today cannot come at a better time than now. Indeed no woman should die while giving life and no child should die from preventable child death. This road map offers new and revitalized implementation approaches that incorporate a focus on changing the mind set for a three-dimensional view in all efforts made. The approaches put emphasis on linkages for the continuum of care in MNCH services to be offered while simultaneously focusing on equity and universal coverage of known effective interventions as a way to attain desired MNCH goals and impacts.”
At the road map launch, which was held at a Government health centre in the Lusaka compound of Chilenje, First Lady Dr. Christine Kaseba said a woman dies every four hours in Zambia from pregnancy-related causes.
"Most of these women die during childbirth and the first week after delivery. We also know that the poorest women have more than twice as many children as women who live in the wealthiest households. Challenges remain because almost 850 children die daily from preventable diseases. Many more thousands of children are suffering from illnesses caused by lack of clean water, poor nutrition, and adequate health services and care," said Dr. Kaseba, an obstetrician who worked for many years at Zambia’s largest medical facility, University Teaching Hospital.
"As women, we need to ensure that households and communities practice health seeking behaviours. As husbands and fathers, you need to recognise that you play a major role in ensuring access of health services to women and children. Communities are strongly encouraged to mobilise themselves to ensure that they mobilise necessary logistics including transport for the referral of pregnant women and sick children for health care," Dr. Kaseba said while expressing her strong support of A Promise Renewed.
USAID and UNICEF Zambia supported the Ministry of Community of Development, Mother and Child Health on the launch of A Promise Renewed. USAID Mission Director Dr. Susan K. Brem said, “In June 2012 we partnered with governments around the world, including the Zambian Government, and UNICEF to ask all stakeholders to recommit to ending the tragedy of preventable childhood deaths. This is our promise.”
“In renewing this important promise, we are cognizant that it’s not just our promise – it has to be the promise of everyone in this audience, of communities, schools, local organizations, and the private sector, to all pull together to provide those basics of health education, food security, water and sanitation that can come together with the health system to end preventable deaths of children and their mothers. So let us renew our promise,” said Dr. Brem.
Slavin is UNICEF Zambia’s Chief, Communications.