Maternal and neonatal health
King's Global Health Partnerships in Zambia is working to improve the quality of care for mothers and newborn babies at 11 primary health care facilities in the Copperbelt Province, and increase the number of safe referrals to more specialist care.
Primary healthcare facilities in Zambia play a vital role in providing basic emergency obstetric and newborn care and ensuring safe referral to tertiary centres (larger urban hospitals) where more specialist care is available. However, primary healthcare 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 newborn babies. The neonatal mortality rate in Zambia shows a worsening 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 poor in Zambia, with 183 deaths per 100,000 live births. In the UK, this figure is below ten.
In the Copperbelt province, the main causes of death for women in childbirth are excessive bleeding, high blood pressure and sepsis. Babies are dying from complications due to prematurity, asphyxia (obstruction to breathing passageways), and sepsis. These deaths are preventable if women and babies access high quality care quickly.
How KGHP is supporting our partners in Zambia
With funding from the James Percy Foundation, staff at primary healthcare facilities are being trained to identify problems, stabilise patients, and refer in a timely manner any complications they cannot handle. The project focuses on improving communication and relationships with the tertiary facilities to ensure that the receiving facilities are prepared for incoming patients, multidisciplinary teamwork, and clinical decision making. We estimate that this project will benefit around 1,500 pregnant women per month who access care at the target facilities.