Launch of Nakatindi Maternity Ward in Zambia
Laying the foundations for better maternal health.
By: Camilla Rhodes | Zambia AKP Coordinator
A core pillar of Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy’s work is to improve healthcare within communities in areas where our guests travel.
In Zambia our commitment to healthcare has included construction of a now government operated rural health clinic, a successful HIV awareness campaign through a 6,000 person catchment area, provision of vital medical supplies, sustainable transportation for care givers and now a maternity ward extension that will transform maternal health within this community and surrounding area.
Good health and well-being has been listed as one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals outlined by the United Nations in 2016. Child and maternal health makes up a large portion of the desired goals:
- By 2030, reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births. Currently the maternal mortality ratio sits at 591 per 100,000 live births in Zambia (Unicef)
- By 2030, end preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age, with all countries aiming to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1,000 live births (currently 34 per 1,000 live births in Zambia) and under-5 mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1,000 live births (currently 119 per 1,000 live births in Zambia)
- By 2030, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes
Zambia is amongst the top 25 countries in the world with the highest numbers of pregnant women living with HIV, according to Unicef. This issue becomes compounded as the shortfalls of healthcare services in developing Zambia are put under growing strain.
Only 19% of women will report to a health facility for antenatal care within their first trimester. This has a huge impact on early diagnosis of HIV within a pregnancy and has a knock on effect to high transmission rates of HIV from mother-to-child, leading to the 28,000 babies born HIV positive in Zambia annually. Currently less than 47% of women are delivering at a health facility, with a skilled health worker present – this creates immense challenges with providing pregnant mothers with a complete treatment to prevent transmission of HIV to their babies. Finally, just 39% of women receive a post-natal check up from a health professional following delivery.
At each stage there are numerous missed opportunities for identifying HIV status, assessing treatment eligibility and providing continued monitoring and support. It can seem like a hopeless situation. But it is the collective work of smaller grassroots initiatives on a local scale that can accumulate into a nationwide and even a global impact.
AKPs construction of a maternity ward will expand the healthcare services offered at the Nakatindi clinic, which AKP constructed in 2013. Developments are well underway…if a little bit soggy. We are currently in the heart of the wet season here in Zambia, but that has not deterred our construction team who have been digging, digging and re-digging our foundations. A little rain never hurt anyone!
No construction program is ever straight forward, and this could be no truer than in Africa. To get ourselves to this stage involved countless re-drawing of site plans to take into account a changing landscape, movement of power lines, closure and re-location of roads and I have no doubt that there will be a few more hurdles along the way. However, without the full support of the community, district health department and a top notch team of consultants and builders we would not have gotten this far.
The new maternity ward extension will build capacity for a larger and more encompassing antenatal care program, early diagnosis and treatment of HIV for both mothers and their partners and ongoing support and monitoring post-delivery. We will also be able to cater for increased capacity during daily family planning and weekly under-5s sessions where growth is monitored and vaccines administered.
For guests choosing to visit the Victoria Falls region we will be able to arrange for visits to the clinic and maternity site. Seeing this health facility in person, you will understand how it has grown to be the beating heart of the village, central to the community’s well-being and a hive of activity. Chat to one of the district health staff who operate the facility about their day-to-day, see the women and their children lining up to have their vaccine cards updated or perhaps get the chance to see our community healthcare volunteers at work and learn about their pivotal role in improving healthcare through outreach work. A great opportunity to gain more of an understanding around the challenges and solutions to healthcare in this corner of Zambia.
Improving healthcare for future mothers and their children, from the ground up.