Zambia Records a 98% Increase in Family Planning and a 54% Drop in Maternal Mortality During MDG Period

30 March 2015

The Central Statistical Office in Zambia at the dissemination of the 2013/2014 Demographic and Health Survey report disclosed that Zambia's maternal mortality ratio (MMR) has declined from 729 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2001/2002 to 398 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2013/2014 - reflecting a 54% decline.

For UNFPA in Zambia, this progress is significant for the unfinished business of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) beyond 2014 Programme of Action, and the emergence of the Sustainable Development Goals in the post 2015 era. It reflects the culmination of 15 years of hard work by the Government of Zambia, UNFPA Zambia Country Office and other key non-state actors; all of who remained committed to intensifying efforts in addressing key barriers to sexual and reproductive health and rights for women and young people across the country.

Linked to the drop in maternal mortality ratio, the 2013/2014 Zambia Demographic and Health Survey also recorded the following improvements in women's sexual and reproductive health:

  • More women are able to decide if, when and how often to have children as contraceptive prevalence rate has increased by a remarkable 98% - from 23% in 2001/2002 to 45% in 2013/2014.
  • More mothers have access to maternal health services as reflected by a 74% increase in births assisted by a skilled provider - from 43% in 2001/2002 to 64% in 2013/2014. This has significantly reduced life threating complications during childbirth.
  • More women are taking action to prevent HIV, as seen by an increase in women who have ever tested for HIV and received the results from 19% in 2007 to 78% in 2013/2014.

However, significant inequalities remain which requires UNFPA Zambia's sustained commitment, to collaborate with Government to enhance intensified efforts and mobilize dedicated and effective support to promote sexual reproductive health and rights of women and young people - in line with commitments of UN member countries at the 20-year review of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD@20).

The ZDHS report also shows that:

  • 45% of women aged 25-49 were married by age 18 compared to 5% of men
  • 43% of women have experienced physical violence since age 15.
  • 29% of girls aged 15-19 are already mothers or pregnant with their first child.
  • 2 out of 3 women report having at least one problem in accessing health care for themselves; while 37% of women are concerned about the distance to the health facility.
  • Women living in the poorest households have nearly 4 times more children (7 births) than women living in the wealthiest households (3 births).
  • The trend in HIV prevalence has not significantly declined from 15.6% in 2001/2002 to 13.3% in 2013/2014. This is linked to the low comprehensive knowledge of HIV among people aged 15-49 (42% of women and 49% of men); and low condom use among young people aged 15-24 - where only 40% of girls and 49% of boys reported using a condom during their last sexual encounter. This suggests an urgent need to intensify HIV prevention strategies (including condom use) especially among young people.

Speaking during the official launch of the 2013/2014 Zambia Demographic and Health Survey report, UNFPA Zambia Representative Dr. Mary Otieno commended the Government of Zambia for including a module on obstetric fistula for the first time in the history of Zambia's DHS.

Dr. Otieno reiterated that robust in-depth analyses of the Zambian DHS data in the coming months is very important, and reiterated UNFPA's commitment to sustain its support to the Central Statistics Office for the generation of monographs with disaggregated data as well as undertaking triangulation with other national data sources such as the Population and Housing Census, Economic Survey, the Living Conditions Survey, and the Demographic Dividend Study.

"UNFPA is proud to note that Zambia is among the 100 countries that have developed a national strategy for the development of statistics. I would like to state that as a direct result of the difficulties in measuring MDG progress globally, the post-2015 development framework is expected to rely heavily on data. This calls for a ‘data revolution' that fully integrates statistics into decision making, promotes open access to and use of data, and ensures increased support for statistical systems. There is no doubt that this is where Zambia is heading with regard to data and I would like to reiterate UNFPA's unwavering commitment to support the Government of Zambia in the aforementioned, as we move into the post 2015 development era" she said.

UNFPA Zambia country office is proud to have partnered with Central Statistics Office throughout the preparatory and execution phases of the ZDHS to the tune of US$ 600,000. These funds were utilized for staff capacity building for in-depth analysis of ZDHS data, adaptation and pre-testing of survey instruments, household listing, communication and publicity, to mention a few.