HEALTH Minister Dr Jonas Chanda has expressed concern over the high maternal mortality rates, revealing that the country loses 15 mothers every week.

Speaking during a virtual meeting with the UN Resident Coordinator and other UN Agencies Representatives in Lusaka, Thursday, Dr Chanda disclosed that Zambia currently loses 15 expectant mothers per week due to various complications associated with child delivery.

He also revealed that neonatal mortality contributed more than 40 per cent to the under-five mortality rate.

“While acknowledging the enormous support that the UN family has given to Zambia over the years, I wish to bring to your attention some of the areas that still require some investments. Although there has been significant improvements in maternal and child mortality rates, the current rates continue to be a public health concern. You may note, your Excellency, that the country loses as many as 15 mothers every week and that neonatal mortality is extremely high, contributing to more than 40 per cent to under five mortality rate. It is, therefore, clear that additional investments are required to strengthen the provision of maternal, child, new-born, adolescent health and nutritional services in order to reduce morbidity and mortality,” Dr Chanda said.

He added that malaria had equally continued to be a leading cause of death in Zambia.

“I also need to post out that malaria is still a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in Zambia. The government will, therefore, continue to lobby for support in strengthening our malaria prevention and treatment interventions to counter the resurgence of malaria in most parts of the country,” Dr Chanda said.

He also disclosed that he will be presenting a Cabinet memo on the COVID-19 vaccine, Monday.

“I wish to inform you your Excellency that on Monday, most likely, we will be presenting a Cabinet memo on the COVID-19 vaccine to get formal Cabinet authorisation and the UN family will be greatly engaged in ensuring that Zambia acquires a safe, efficacious, and logistically feasible vaccine for Zambia to help in the fight against COVID-19,” said Dr Chanda, who also acknowledged the important roles that various UN agencies had played in ensuring optimal health service delivery to Zambians.

And speaking earlier, United Nations resident coordinator Dr Coumba Mar Gadio announced that the UN was procuring 2,995 emergency health kits to be distributed to all health facilities across Zambia.

“An estimated one million people in Zambia are expected to benefit from essential health services and commodities supplied by the UN. A total of 2,995 UN inter-agency emergency health kits are being procured and delivered to MSL (Medical Stores Limited) for distribution to all health facilities across the country and this is funded by Germany, Sweden and UK. It is so important that basic essential health services continue to avoid any reversal of the gains that have been made in maternal and child health in reducing stunting and in preventing new HIV infections,” said Dr Mar Gadio, adding that the UN remained ready to render technical support to ensure a safe and secure roll-out of the much-needed COVID-19 vaccine.