United States and Zambia Launch Women’s Health Initiative

Lusaka. July 11, 2015.

MANSA – United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission Director Dr. Susan K. Brems and the Honorable Emerine Kabanshi, Minister of Community Development, Mother and Child Health, met in Luapula Province to commemorate the start of a new activity aimed at improving maternal health. The Sexual and Reproductive Health for All Initiative (SARAI) will support the Government of Zambia to provide accessible, comprehensive, and adolescent-friendly family planning (FP) services, with a particular focus on vulnerable populations and those in greatest need. The activity contributes to the Global FP2020 movement that “supports the rights of women and girls to decide, freely, and for themselves, whether, when, and how many children they want to have.”

At the event, Dr. Brems likened safe motherhood to the seasonality of farming saying, “Farmers know you cannot harvest a crop before it is ready and you cannot plant the same crop year after year. Under these conditions, the plants and trees can no longer bear good fruit. Similarly, girls and women who give birth at a young age or at a very late age or have multiple births without appropriate spacing put both themselves and their children at risk.”

Currently, Zambia has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, attributed to complications of pregnancy and childbirth, unintended pregnancy, unsafe abortions and high HIV prevalence. The disparity between urban and rural areas and high rates of teenage pregnancy are two important, contributing reproductive health challenges. On average, Zambian women have between five and six children with an average of 3.7 children in urban areas and 6.6 in rural areas. Modern contraceptive use is 45 percent in Zambia overall and drops to 39 percent in rural areas. An estimated 29 percent of adolescent women aged 15-19 are already mothers or pregnant with their first child. The USAID-supported program is aimed at addressing these challenges.

The U.S. Government, through USAID and with partial funding provided by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), will coordinate with the Zambian Government, local communities, and donor organizations to implement the five-year activity. Society for Family Health is the implementing partner. SARAI will be active in three provinces in the following districts:

  • Copperbelt Province: Chililabombwe, Chingola, Kalululushi, Kitwe, Mufulira and Ndola
  • Luapula Province: Chienge, Lunga, Mansa, Nchelenge and Kawambwa
  • Muchinga Province: Mpika, Mafinga, Shiwa Ngandu and Nakonde