a World Vision zambia health clinic - citizens recommend that the government build rural health centres to reduce maternal and child mortality

a World Vision zambia health clinic - citizens recommend that the government build rural health centres to reduce maternal and child mortality

The Citizens’ hearings in Zambia, organized by World Vision, took the form of focus group discussions in two districts; Mbala and Kasama. These hearings were held in March with members of the community and Senior Nursing Officers.

A total of 48 participants attended the discussions in Mbala District and 85 participants joined the discussions in Kasama District. Communities shared the challenges they face in women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health. Access to quality health care facilities was raised a key issue at both the hearings.

This was illustrated by Mr Cephas Mwansa, one of the citizen’s at the Kasama hearing, whose wife and baby died shortly after childbirth. At the hearing he recalled

 
My wife delivered the child successfully with the help of neighbours but unfortunately my child died a few seconds later. While mourning the loss of our child, the placenta was stuck in my wife’s womb and eventually she died after 5 hours of trying so hard to remove it
 

He shared with participants that his wife’s and child’s deaths could have been prevented if there had been a Rural Health Center (RHC) nearby and employ certified health workers to manage them. Many people, especially pregnant mothers, are still dying because of long distances to get to the nearest health centre.  

 
 

The Government has been implementing a range of reforms over the past 20 years and implementing a wide range of interventions in an effort to reduce both under-five and maternal mortality, and as shown by the declining statistics, much improvement has been made. However, much remains to be done - high levels of under 5 malnutrition was raised as a key challenge at the community discussion in Mbala.

RECOMMENDATIONS
The joint civil society and citizen-led recommendations from the hearing were:

- Ensure access to health facilities, particularly for those living in rural areas, by increasing the number of Rural Health Centres. This is critical to help women access health facilities for childbirth as well as ANC and PNC visits, and immunization.

- Improve under five nutrition

- Increasing allocation of resources to the health sector to at least 15% of the total national budget and ensure accountability and transparency of resource use

- Improve the quality of health services, especially maternal health, with particular focus on community and local levels

- Reduce morbidity and mortality from preventable infections and undernutrition among mothers, newborns, and children under five

- Traditional leaders agreed to support improvement in uptake of health services by community members by encouraging women to deliver at health centres.

A follow up event is planned involving a mothers' march to highlight the issue of long distances to health centre's which result in women's and newborn deaths.