YANDE SYAMPEYO, Lusaka
THE Zambia Alliance for Maternal, Neo-natal and Child Health (MNCH Alliance) has praised Government for its commitment towards women’s health, newborn babies and other children through international initiatives.
The international initiatives include the Abuja Declaration which Zambia signed in 2001 committing to increased funding to health by 15 percent of the national budget.
MNCH Alliance chairperson Monica Mutesa said although Government’s investment in the health sector has been fluctuating, the country has achieved a decline in maternal, newborn and child mortality rates.
Currently, newborn mortality rate is at 21/1,000, while under-five mortality stands at 64/1,000 and maternal mortality ratio is 280/100,000 live births.
Ms Mutesa said at a media orientation meeting last Friday that the country’s policies have created an environment for improved health service delivery.
“I cannot say we have ‘arrived’, as it is a journey; we can do better. To push towards zero preventable maternal, newborn and child deaths, Government needs to align its resources with policies,” Ms Mutesa said.
World Vision director of advocacy and communications Pamela Chama urged the alliance to consider repositioning itself towards the eradication of child marriages as it is the leading cause of maternal and child mortality.
“When you have a girl who is 11 years old and becomes pregnant, their bodies are pretty young; they cannot hold pregnancies, therefore resulting in birth complications,” Ms Chama said.
Christopher Mazimba, a specialist in paediatrics and gynaecology, said men’s involvement in family planning is cardinal in eradicating maternal and child deaths.
Dr Mazimba, who is a member of the alliance, said there is need to scale up family planning services to encourage safe motherhood.
Churches Health Association of Zambia (CHAZ) advocacy officer Ngalande Ngalande hailed some traditional leaders in Central Province that have imposed sanctions on families that allow women to deliver at home.
“If a woman delivers at home, her family is asked to deliver a goat at the nearest health centre. This measure is meant to encourage the delivery of babies at health facilities as it is safer,” he said.
Centre for Reproductive Health executive director Amos Mwale said the country stands to lose K9.7 billion between 2017 and 2021 if women, newborn babies and other children die from preventable causes.