Zambia has made progress in reducing child mortality, but significant challenges remain in maternal and neonatal mortality
Zambia is a society with high levels of poverty in which children and women face many health risks. For children, these include vaccine preventable diseases (e.g. tuberculosis, polio, measles, diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus), HIV, malaria, pneumonia, diarrhoea and malnutrition.
“Malnutrition continues to be an underlying cause of child deaths”
Between 2007 and 2018, Zambia has seen a 50 per cent reduction in maternal and under 5 mortality, and a 40 per cent reduction in infant mortality. However, in the period 2014-2018, neonatal mortality rates increased from 24 to 27 deaths per 1,000 births. Inadequate infrastructure, access to services and quality of care are the key factors hindering stronger progress for the health of women and children. Despite improvements, neonatal and maternal mortality rates remain high for a low-middle income country like Zambia.
Malnutrition continues to be an underlying cause of children’s deaths with little change to stunting levels in the last few decades. Zambia’s general population has an estimated HIV prevalence of 11.1 per cent, with women carrying a higher burden at 14.2 per cent. Health issues are worse in rural areas and among the poor.
UNICEF Zambia’s health programme is geared towards ending preventable maternal and child mortality. Our work is anchored in the National Health Strategic Plan 2017-2021 and the National Community Health Strategy 2019-2021.
UNICEF’s health programme works to keep mothers healthy and help provide a strong start to children’s lives. We aim to ensure that by 2021, children and women will benefit from clear improvements in antenatal care and skilled birth attendance; maternal, newborn and postnatal care; immunisation coverage and school-based health interventions; as well as expanded coverage in the treatment of children affected by diarrhoea, pneumonia, malaria and acute malnutrition. This will be achieved through aiming to increase the number of:
- Women attending quality antenatal care visits to 80 per cent.
- Skilled birth attendance to 80 per cent.
- Children who are fully immunised by their first birthday to 80 per cent.
- Women and newborns that receive postnatal care within 48 hours (live births) to 90 per cent.
- Under 5 children who have diarrhoea receiving oral rehydration salts and zinc to 80 per cent.
- Children between birth and 5 years old who might have pneumonia with appropriate antibiotics to 80 per cent.
- Children aged 0 – 59 months who receive malaria treatment with artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) or other appropriate antimalarial drugs to 80 per cent.
Alongside support to the government on these programmes, successful health systems require frequent and good quality administrative data to enable the monitoring of disease trends and the evaluation of policy interventions.
Zambia Integrated Community Case Management (iCCM): A Five-year Scale-up Strategic plan, 2017–2021
Zambia National Health Strategic Plan (NHSP) 2017–2021
Zambia Comprehensive Multi-Year Plan (c-MYP) for Immunization 2017- 2021
Zambia National Community Health Strategy 2019–2021