Lusaka, Zambia—United States Ambassador to the Republic of Zambia Eric Schultz visited the Livingstone area February 13-14, 2017 as part of an America Days program, part of a United States effort to engage with the people of Zambia who live outside of the capital city. During his visit, Ambassador Schultz engaged with young Zambian leaders, met beneficiaries of services at U.S.-funded health programs, and presented an American rock-jazz-folk music trio to a public audience at a free performance.
At Livingstone Central Hospital, Ambassador Schultz officially opened the newly refurbished Pediatric Center of Excellence, to provide higher quality services to Zambian children infected with HIV. The Pediatric Center of Excellence was renovated with PEPFAR funding in collaboration with the Ministry of Health through the United States CDC agreement with the Southern Provincial Health Office. The Pediatric Center of Excellence provides comprehensive care and treatment services to children exposed to, and infected by HIV/AIDS, and includes a Family Support Unit which implements a holistic HIV testing and counseling strategy, an Adult ART Clinic, with a total of 4,184 individuals on life saving treatment, and a Gynecology Department which houses the female reproductive health clinic with 3,913 women screened for cervical cancer to date.
Through United States government support, the Pediatric Center of Excellence has been elevated to an e-First facility, meaning that the national electronic health records system (SmartCare) is in use at all service delivery points. This has resulted in improved patient care and information for all units, including laboratory and pharmacy. In addition, through SmartCare, the United States has helped strengthen the national Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) system. This has been done by taking advantage of SmartCare, which collects routine primary health data, including records of birth and death, for issuance of certificates.
The Ambassador also visited a U.S. government-funded project to fight gender-based violence. At a One-Stop Center, a primary location for USAID anti-gender based violence (GBV) programming in Zambia, the Ambassador attended a dialogue with survivors of GBV. The Stamping Out and Preventing Gender-based Violence (STOP GBV) Program is a partnership between USAID and DFID supporting 16 One-Stop Centers in Zambia. The center provides medical treatment, legal support, and psychological counselling to GBV survivors, and prevention and advocacy training through community outreach to sensitize against GBV. The program also undertakes community “dialogues” on GBV and early child marriage in rural communities of Livingstone. Since October 2012, almost 50,000 survivors have accessed post-GBV care at the supported Centers, and from October 2015 to September 2016, more than 18,000 survivors, 31 percent of whom were children, received post-GBV care at a One-Stop Center.
The Ambassador took the opportunity to visit the Livingstone District Medical Office where he met with the Livingstone District Health Director and an American Peace Corps Response Volunteer who is based there to help coordinate the Saving Mothers, Giving Life Program activities in the District. Saving Mothers, Giving Life is an important health program in Livingstone and the Ambassador also visited the Simonga Rural Health Center to tour a USAID-funded Saving Mothers, Giving Life/Safe Motherhood 360+ site. Saving Mothers, Giving LIfe reduces maternal deaths through interventions in the first 48-hours of women’s’ labor and delivery during which they often face delays in seeking, reaching, and receiving care. At the end of 2015, Saving Mothers, Giving Life achieved a 55 percent decrease in maternal mortality in facilities where Saving Mothers, Giving Life operates, a 38 percent increase in facility deliveries, and a 44 percent decrease in perinatal mortality in facilities in the four original Saving Mothers, Giving Life districts of Kalomo, Lundazi, Mansa and Nyimba.
The Ambassador rounded out his visit to the Livingstone area by presenting a public musical performance by an American trio known as Natalia Zukerman. The band is part of the State Department’s American Music Abroad program that seeks to promote U.S. culture with international audiences. The Natalia Zukerman trio will be in Livingstone and Lusaka for workshops, music masterclasses, discussions on entrepreneurship for musicians, and for their performance in Livingstone.