Nakatindi Maternity Ward Opens in Zambia!
On Thursday, March 15, 2018, more than 400 people gathered to celebrate the opening of the new Nakatindi Maternity Ward in Zambia. Camilla Rhodes, Zambia AKP Coordinator, shares why the construction of the maternity ward is a monumental accomplishment for AKP and for the Nakatindi community.
By: Camilla Rhodes | Zambia AKP Coordinator
With one in seven of the population testing positive for the HIV virus, Zambia is among the top ten countries burdened with the highest prevalence in the world. In the Nakatindi area this statistic is sadly even higher, estimated at one in four people testing positive. Of great concern is the transmission of HIV from mother to infant during childbirth. Countrywide the HIV infection rates among pregnant women remain high at 16.4%. According to UNICEF, 28,000 babies are born HIV positive every year in Zambia, and 120,000 Zambian children are living with HIV.
In recent years the rate of infection in infants has declined largely thanks to the implementation of programmes for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission. These prevention and treatment services, which include the provision of antiretroviral therapy, have expanded quickly; however, the majority of these facilities are located in the country’s urban centers and are out of reach for the 60% of Zambians living in rural areas. Facing long distances without access to transportation, the majority of women in Zambia still give birth at home without the assistance of a skilled health worker.
The new 275 square meter maternity ward recently constructed at Nakatindi provides increased capacity for antenatal care, which currently only 19% of Zambian mothers experience. This allows early diagnosis and assessing treatment eligibility to increase. Identifying HIV status early on is critical to preventing the transmission of HIV from mother to child, and with maternal care provided by skilled government healthcare professionals throughout delivery and postnatal care, the reality of HIV free babies being born can hopefully be realised.
The facility features a delivery room, sluice, antenatal & postnatal rooms, ultrasound room, duty room for stay over staff, washrooms and an office.
Healthcare has always been a core pillar of Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy’s work, with this development being AKP’s largest investment to date. The clinic that was constructed in 2013 already caters to a catchment area of 6000 people, serving 50 patients daily, this number is set to increase with the new maternity ward extension attracting mothers from further afield to give birth in a new and safe environment.
The construction had a number of hurdles to overcome, but the wait has not dampened anyone’s spirit. The clinic has grown to be the beating heart of this community, and the new maternity ward is only adding to the well-being of the people living here. The excitement for the opening is palpable and I am often met by exuberant women proclaiming their desire to be the first to give birth – some as old as 80!
The maternity ward is already excelling under our partnership on the ground with the Ministry of Health and the Nakatindi Community Health Committee, bringing together different Zambian sectors, uniting under a common goal of improved maternal healthcare. The future is looking a little bit brighter for Nakatindi’s mothers and children.