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Zambia neonatal care ;

King's awarded funding to support maternal and neonatal care in Zambia

Laura Hucks

Director, King's Global Health Partnerships

30 September 2021

Too many mothers and newborn babies still die from preventable complications in Zambian hospitals due to a lack of trained health workers, inadequate equipment, and delayed referrals. The neonatal mortality rate in Zambia shows a negative trend with 23 deaths per 1,000 live births. In comparison, this number in the UK is less than three. Maternal mortality rates are also high in Zambia, with 183 deaths per 100,000 live births. In the UK, this figure is below ten.

King’s Global Health Partnerships have been awarded a grant from the James Percy Foundation to address this challenge in the Copperbelt Region of Zambia. We will be working with our Zambian partners – the Ndola Teaching Hospital and the Arthur Davison Children’s Hospital – to improve the quality of care at primary health care level and increase the number of safe referrals to more specialist care, thereby improving chances of survival of mothers and new-borns.

Arthur Davison children's hospital Zambia

Primary healthcare facilities in Zambia play a vital role in providing basic emergency obstetric and newborn care and ensuring safe referral to more specialist care. However, these facilities are drastically under-resourced, with shortages in skilled staff, medical equipment, and supplies. This often results in preventable and unnecessary deaths of mothers and babies. In the Copperbelt province, the main causes of death for women in childbirth are excessive bleeding, high blood pressure and sepsis. Their newborns are dying from complications due to prematurity, asphyxia (obstruction to breathing passageways), and sepsis. These deaths can be prevented if women and babies access high quality care quickly.

Together with partners, we will develop and deliver a tailored maternal and neonatal training package for nurses, midwives, and clinical officers at primary healthcare facilities. These health workers will be trained to identify problems, stabilise patients, and refer in a timely manner any complications they cannot handle. They will also be trained to communicate rapidly with the tertiary hospitals to ensure that the receiving facilities are prepared for incoming patients. The training will also have a focus on developing leadership skills, with a view to improving communication, multidisciplinary teamwork, and clinical decision making.

Kings Zambia Partnership

There is limited availability of critical medical equipment in most health facilities in Zambia. Both at primary and tertiary level, health workers struggle without the basics such as functional resuscitation equipment, blood pressure monitors, and sponge forceps. With the generous funding from the James Percy Foundation, we will be able to provide basic life-saving equipment, spare parts, and will provide training on equipment maintenance to ensure sustainability.


Over a 33-month period, this programme of work will target 11 primary healthcare facilities within the Copperbelt Province, directly benefiting over 41,400 mothers, their babies, and their wider families.– Laura Hucks, Director, King's Global Health Partnerships

This work builds on a long relationship between Ndola and Guys and St Thomas’s Hospital, which both sides are keen to further develop. If you have relevant experience and would like to get involved remotely, please get in touch at

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