Empowering Local Teams to Reduce Maternal Mortality

In Zambia’s Copperbelt province, the maternal mortality rate was alarmingly high. While dwindling global aid dollars were being filtered to respond to epidemics, the local community health team was empowered to improve local health outcomes by recognizing and addressing their own challenges.

The Luanshya district community health team was trained through the Management and Leadership Academy (MLA). The MLA empowered the team to address high maternal mortality rates in their district. Through MLA tools, the team recognized that its community had a crippled emergency care referral network, as well as a shortage of skilled health care workers. This recognition sparked the team to take a series of steps that led to the provision of four ambulances procured from the local government constituency development funds. In addition, two midwives were allocated to support the district’s most problematic health site – the Fisenga rural health center.

Investing in local problem solving – training community health teams to recognize and address unique issues in their community – results in empowered health care workers, stronger local health systems and improved health outcomes.

MLA trainings in other sites around Zambia have worked to improve maternal mortality:

At Libonda Health Centre in Kalabo District, an overhaul of management procedures has led to zero reported instances of maternal death at the hospital.

The Mpunde Rural Health Clinic improved service delivery and quality of care for improved maternal health outcomes. Activities included training staff on Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care; procuring essential maternal health equipment; adding a registered nurse at the facility; repairing the facility vehicle to assist in emergency situations; and conducting community outreach on safe maternal and reproductive health practices.