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Safe Births Even Here! Zambia’s Kenani and Mantapala Refugee Camps

Nowhere is the risk of dying during childbirth greater than in humanitarian crisis settings. Current data estimates 1 in every 2 (60%) of maternal deaths occur in countries affected by humanitarian crises and fragility as a result of pregnancy or childbirth related complications.

Kenani and Mantapala refugee settlements in Nchelenge District of Luapula Province in the Republic of Zambia, currently hosts 15,119 refugees who have fled the Democratic Republic of Congo and arrived in Zambia between September 2017 and April 2018. Over 70% of the refugee population are women and children, including about 50% women of reproductive age (15 to 49 years).

Over 400 women and girls in Kenani and Mantapala are currently pregnant and face increased risks of complications, due to limited access and uptake of quality services - including health, nutrition and protection, among others.

Ensuring Dignity, Protective Measures and Health for Women and Girls in Crisis Settings

Eva* fled the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2017 and has just delivered a healthy baby at St Paul’s Mission Hospital – located 10 kilometers from Kenani refugee transit centre, her temporary home.

Eva is among thousands of women and girls who are benefitting from the life-saving interventions through support from UNFPA, including deployment of midwives and Safe Motherhood Action Groups (SMAGs), as well as provision of essential medicines, equipment and supplies. Each day, the health staff at the maternal and child health clinic in Kenani and Mantapala refugee settlements, as well as the referral hospital [St Paul’s Mission Hospital located 10KM and 45KM from Kenani and Mantapala respectively] provide integrated sexual reproductive health services to the women, adolescent girls and young people.

In line with UNFPA’s global “Safe Birth Even Here” campaign; and as part of the UN Zambia joint response to the emergency situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo - funded by the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), UNFPA Zambia is working to ensure women, adolescent girls and young people within the refugee camps and settlements in Nchelenge have access to the quality care they need.

Speaking during a joint monitoring visit by Government and UNFPA, the Permanent Secretary, Luapula Province, Dr. Buleti Nsemukila; UNFPA Zambia Deputy Representative Ms. Chinwe Ogbonna and Luapula Provincial Health Director, Dr Peter Bwalya reaffirmed collective commitments to ensure “zero maternal deaths”, including in humanitarian settings.

Top: UNFPA Zambia Deputy Representative hands over reproductive health kits to Luapula Province Officials. The kits contain essential medicines, equipment and supplies for use by women of reproductive age within refugee settlements in Nchelenge District.
Bottom: Eva* (R) happy to show her new born baby to UNFPA Zambia Deputy Representative (L) at St Paul’s Mission Hospital in Nchelenge District. She is among over 7,000 refugee women and girls benefiting from life-saving medicines, equipment and essential supplies made available through UNFPA, with funding from CERF.

"Reproductive health - including ensuring dignity while giving life - is a human right.  On behalf of the Government of the Republic of Zambia, I would like to express appreciation to UNFPA, for complementing Governments' efforts aimed at securing this right among the most vulnerable women and girls. We are confident that the reproductive health kits donated by UNFPA will facilitate the provision of the best possible care within the humanitarian settings in Nchelenge District". Dr. Buleti Nsemukila, Permanent Secretary, Luapula Province.

"UNFPA Zambia reaffirms its commitment to facilitate the delivery of life-saving medicines, equipment and essential supplies to women, adolescent girls and young people; as well as strengthening the capacity of health workers and volunteers to ensure improved maternal and newborn care within refugee settlements in Luapula Province". Ms. Chinwe Ogbonna, UNFPA Zambia Deputy Representative.