U.S. Government Supports Symposium for Reproductive, Maternal and Child Health

LUSAKA – This week, Zambia’s Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Health, Dr. Kennedy Malama, officially opened the Evidence for Impact Research Symposium. The symposium ran from Tuesday, March 20 through Thursday, March 22 at the Mulungushi International Conference Centre. It brought together over 300 officials health-care professionals and researchers representing the Ministry of Health, Zambia’s cooperating partners, local health-care providers, and other stakeholders in the health sector.

The first conference of its type in Zambia to focus specifically on reproductive, maternal and newborn, child, and adolescent health and nutrition services in primary care and community settings, the three-day event was co-funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DfID).

The Symposium is the latest result of the ongoing and productive partnership between the United States and the United Kingdom (U.K.) in the health sector.  One panel at the Symposium discussed another recent product of the U.S./U.K. health-sector partnership — the successful and recently-concluded joint programming between DfID and USAID that focused on reducing Gender-Based Violence (GBV). The Ministry of Health has now assumed direct management of the 16 One-Stop Centers in 26 districts throughout Zambia that were created and funded by the USAID/DfID partnership to provide comprehensive services to survivors of GBV.

Speaking at the symposium on behalf of the Minister of Health, Dr. Malama stated, “This is the time to focus on critical evidence generated in Zambia over recent years, to share learning, and maximize gains at primary and community levels to accelerate progress.”

One highlight of the Symposium was the dissemination of results of the U.S. Government initiative, Saving Mothers, Giving Life (SMGL).  Launched in 2012, SMGL is a five-year public-private partnership implemented in Zambia and Uganda. The goal of SMGL is to reduce maternal and newborn mortality rates by 50% and 30% respectively, through implementation of high-impact interventions addressing delays around the 48 hours of labor and delivery. Numerous subject-matter experts and implementing partners involved in the SMGL initiative were at the Symposium to share their experiences and lessons learned.

Symposium participants were urged to apply research findings into measurable gains for primary and community health care for Zambia’s women and children. The Symposium focused on six main areas where research findings can be applied to reform policy and improve health outcomes: 1.) increasing low-cost access to reproductive healthcare, GBV prevention, and treatment services; 2.) strengthening maternal and newborn services at primary and community levels; 3.) making progress in childhood health outcomes; 4.) eliminating malaria;  5.) improving adolescent-centered sexual and reproductive health services and outcomes; and 6.) refining nutrition interventions to meet the differing maternal, child and adolescent  needs in the community.