Contributing to child survival and development through improving maternal, newborn and child health, enhancing nutritional status and an integrated response to the HIV and AIDS pandemic
Zambia faces significant challenges to maternal, infant and young child survival. The past five years has recorded a decline in young child mortality; however the rates still remain unacceptably high at 34, 70 and 119 per 1,000 live births for neonatal, infant and under-five deaths respectively (Central Statistics Office, Zambia Demographic and Health Survey, 2007).
Malnutrition underlies a third of all child deaths. The recent estimates in 32 selected districts indicate a prevalence of stunting, underweight and wasting at 52 per cent, 18 per cent and 5 per cent respectively (National Food and Nutrition Commission, 2009).
The maternal mortality ratio has reduced from 729 per 100,000 live births in 2002 to 591 in 2007 (Central Statistics Office, Zambia Demographic and Health Survey, 2007).
The HIV prevalence is 14.3 per cent, with provincial variations ranging from 7 per cent in Northern Province to 21 per cent in Lusaka Province.
Leading causes of death amongst under-fives include neonatal causes, pneumonia, malaria, diarrhoeal diseases and HIV (WHO, Zambia Country Profile, 2006).
Leading causes of maternal death include haemorrhage, sepsis, obstructed labour, hypertensive conditions, abortion, malaria and HIV (WHO, Zambia Country Profile, 2006).
HIV infection rates amongst pregnant women remain high at 16.4 per cent (Ministry of Health, Zambia Antenatal Clinic Sentinel Surveillance Report 2008-2009 ) among those attending antenatal clinics, with some 68,000 infants being born each year to HIV-infected women (UNAIDS, Children and AIDS Fifth Stocktaking Report).
There are an estimated 120,000 Zambian children living with HIV, of whom at least 59,000 children remain in immediate need of antiretroviral therapy (ART) (UNAIDS, Children and AIDS Fifth Stocktaking Report).
UNICEF has devoted substantial efforts towards survival and development of young children through supporting advocacy, programme design, national leadership and public engagement. The county office actively participates and leads several UN Joint technical working groups under the UNDAF Outcome Areas, and is the lead convener for the impact mitigation component of the UN Joint HIV Plan.
UNICEF is also co-lead (together with DFID) in the nutrition sub-sector. The programme works with a broad range of partners, including government departments, civil society, the private sector, academic bodies, and cooperating partners. Among the key activities being supported are: