Saving Mothers, Giving Life Halves Maternal Deaths

Saving Mothers, Giving Life is a public-private partnership working to dramatically reduce maternal and newborn mortality in sub-Saharan African countries.  In Zambia, this effort has reduced maternal deaths by 55% and early newborn deaths by 45% in three years.

Video Transcript 
Samfya, Zambia It is a special morning in the village of Mundabi. This is Theresa. She is visiting her niece, Mwansa. Theresa knows, Mwansa is pregnant. In Bemba tradition, an aunt blesses her niece when she is pregnant. It’s done in secret, early in the morning before others are awake. Pregnancy isn’t something that’s celebrated here. Many women die while pregnant. Many babies die. EVERY TWO MINUTES A WOMAN DIES DURING PREGNANCY AND CHILD BIRTH IN SOUTHERN AFRICA. OVER 95 PERCENT OF THESE DEATHS ARE PREVENTABLE. My name is Exildah Chola Chate. I am a SMAG [Safe Motherhood Action Group member]. I have been trained to work with our community to provide education and support to keep our babies and mothers safe. I’m visiting Ruth, who lives in my village. She is 8 months pregnant. My name is Ruth Mushinge. I am 8 months pregnant. This is my second pregnancy. I have been meeting with Ruth since her first weeks of pregnancy. I ask how she is feeling and we discuss her birth plan. Pregnant women here rely on their aunts and grandmothers for care even if there is a serious problem. I’ve learned the importance of antenatal checkups. And I’ve learned that when you see danger signs when pregnant you must get to the clinic and not stay at home. The SMAGS teach us to eat nutritious food and to use mosquito nets so that we are protected from getting malaria. They encourage us to save money before the birth for transport to the hospital. It’s difficult here for women to get to the clinic to give birth. Many women have to travel a long way. Women now know how important it is to get to the clinic. Before the SMAGs were here, no one was helping us. Especially for us who live far from a clinic, we didn’t have the knowledge about the clinic. The SMAGs visit us regularly and teach us. I am a leader and I’m moving peoples’ lives forward. Children are not dying and their mothers are not dying. I am teaching them well. I feel happy, I know the work of the SMAGs has down well. Under the Zambian Government’s leadership, the Saving Mothers, Giving Life public-private partnership trains SMAGs, like Exhildah, to improve maternal care. In target districts within Zambia, Saving Mothers, Giving Life has resulted in a 55% reduction in maternal deaths and a 45% reduction in stillbirths and early newborn deaths.