ZAMBIA: ATTEMPTS TO REDUCE MATERNAL MORTALITY HAMPERED BY POVERTY

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A health professional attending to a pregnant mother in Zambia

Vice President of Zambia’s Medical Association Samson Chisele, has said that the country’s effort at reducing maternal mortality from 224 to 100 per 100,000 life births by 2021 is threatened by poverty.

He said with over 60 percent of the population living on less than two dollars a day, the country is unlikely to reduce the current incidence of maternal deaths by more than half. He blamed the poor state of healthcare delivery as well for the threats to childbirth.

“The maternal mortality rate in Zambia is still very high, though we have managed to reduce it,” the gynaecologist said.

He attributed maternal deaths in Zambia to multiple delays from both patients and health facilities.

“Maternal deaths in Zambia are a result of delays – delays going to the health facility, delay to reach the facility and delay at the facility,” Chisele said.

The United Nations ranks sub-Saharan Africa topmost among regions with high incidents of maternal deaths in the world. At least 547 mothers die in every 100,000 births.

But other countries on the continent have worse rates compared to Zambia. Sierra Leone records 1,360 in every 100,000 while Nigeria’s death rate is 814 per every 100,000 life births.

There is renewed expectation that increased public discourse on maternal deaths may result in improved healthcare in Zambia, as the government may be compelled to spend more money on healthcare delivery.

Some individuals who have lost relations to childbirth are pushing for a change in government’s approach to the phenomenon.

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