High levels of HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases, a large number of orphans and vulnerable children, unacceptable infant and maternal mortality, and fertility of 5.9 births per woman undermine the health and productivity of Zambian families.
Our work is aligned closely with Zambia's National Health Strategic Plan and uses proven approaches to combat malaria and tuberculosis; improve maternal and child health; and promote family planning and reproductive health. We also focus on preventing new HIV infections and providing care and treatment for those already infected with the virus.
Malaria is the leading cause of sickness and death in Zambia, with nearly 4.3 million cases and 50,000 deaths per year. It is responsible for one quarter of childhood deaths and accounts for almost 50 percent of hospitalizations nationwide.
Our support focuses on the most vulnerable: pregnant women and children under age five. Through the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative, we help expand the availability and use of proven preventive measures, including long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito nets, and indoor residual spraying. Activities also address the dangers of malaria in pregnancy by reaching pregnant women with preventive treatment, and improving diagnosis and treatment of malaria-especially for children. We purchase mosquito nets, insecticides for indoor residual spraying, diagnostic equipment, and other commodities for the national malaria program.
Since U.S. support for Zambia’s malaria program began in 2002, malaria-related deaths have decreased by 66 percent.
With over one million Zambians infected with HIV, a prevalence rate of 14.3 percent, the effect of the disease is far-reaching. HIV/AIDS has devastated individual families and communities, leaving households broken, and orphans and vulnerable children in its wake. The HIV/AIDS epidemic has also affected all aspects of social and economic growth as well. It has weakened many areas of the public sector and threatened long-term national development. Despite some evidence that the epidemic may have reached a plateau, there remains an urgent need for a comprehensive response from all sectors of society to prevent further infections and care for those already infected.
USAID, under the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, supports comprehensive activities in five provinces.
- We partner with the Ministry of Health to expand quality services for prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission, HIV counseling and testing, and treatment. We also supports HIV counseling and testing in private clinics.
- At the national level, we invest in a system to ensure a steady supply of HIV/AIDS-related commodities. USAID purchases anti-retroviral drugs, HIV test kits, and HIV-related lab equipment and supplies.
- We promote HIV prevention outreach focused on changing behavior and social norms, including education messages and materials that are appropriate for the age and culture of the targeted population.
- We support services for orphans and vulnerable children, both on the street and in communities. These include education, counseling, food and nutrition, shelter, and child protection services.
- We support efforts to improve laws and policies to ensure that people infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS have access to key services and are protected from stigma and stereotypes.
Gender inequalities in social and economic status increase women’s vulnerability to HIV. We support the integration of gender and the prevention of gender-based violence in our HIV/AIDS programs.
As a result of U.S. government support, more than 400,000 people now regularly receive antiretroviral treatment and the percentage of infected infants born to HIV-positive women dropped from 39 percent in 2005 to under 5 percent in 2010. USAID manages dynamic programs to address gender-based violence and has supported over 500,000 orphans and vulnerable children.
Health Systems Strengthening
In addition to these efforts, USAID supports the strengthening of the Zambian health system, which acts as a platform from which effective and sustainable, Zambian led health programs can be launched. USAID/Zambia also supports the development of Zambian capacity from the national to the community level, encouraging behavior change for healthy lifestyles, promoting increased demand for and access to quality health services, and purchasing key commodities (essential medicines, mosquito nets, etc.).
Zambia's maternal mortality ratio is one of the highest in the world and only 43 percent of deliveries are attended by someone who is medically trained. We support activities that provide technical assistance and training to improve antenatal, and emergency obstetric care; improve immunization coverage for children; address their nutritional needs; help manage childhood illnesses; and, make clean drinking water more available.
With Zambian women having 6.2 children on average, investing in family planning and other reproductive health services is vital to slowing the economic and environmental impacts of a growing population. Family planning and reproductive health services are not uniformly available around the country. We help achieve Zambian family planning and reproductive health goals by providing technical assistance and training to expand access to family planning services.
Last updated: November 17, 2014