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Celebrating International Women’s Day in Zambia

By Mathew Mwetela, Communications Officer, BID Initiative

Mar 6, 2015

Posted in

WomensDay

Photo: PATH/Gabe Bienczycki

Annually on the 8th of March, Zambia, one of the BID Initiative’s demonstration countries, celebrates International Women’s Day, a day celebrated since 1964 when Zambia received independence. The aim of this holiday is to inspire women and celebrate women’s achievements. It is a time to reflect on progress made on issues affecting women, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary woman who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their communities.

This year’s theme, “Empowering Women – Empowering Humanity: Picture It!” envisions a world where each woman and girl can exercise her choices, such as participating in politics, getting an education, having an income, and living in societies free from violence and discrimination.

Health Issues Affecting Women

Zambia’s health related priority for women is reflected in the global MDG 5 target for maternal health which aims to reduce the number of maternal deaths in pregnancy and childbirth by three quarters between 1990 and 2015. Despite significant strides toward this goal, the country continues to record a fairly high maternal mortality rate. Access to health facilities, availability of trained staff and a lack of encouragement around health seeking behaviors are among some factors hampering progress.

Looking Ahead

However, Zambia remains committed to overcoming these challenges and promoting women’s health. To promote access and utilization, they have abolished fees for all maternal health services. Women can take advantage of the free maternal and child health services that include antenatal checkups, postnatal care, intermittent presumptive treatment for malaria, and a regimen to prevent mother to child transmission for mothers who are HIV positive.

Other interventions include national immunization campaigns which provide millions of mothers and children access to immunizations. In addition, women receive micronutrient supplementation (Vitamin A), tools to prevent malaria such as free or low-cost insecticide-treated bed nets, and they also have access to growth monitoring services, HIV counselling and testing, coupled with provision of antiretroviral treatment. All which are available at no cost for women.

Although the BID Initiative is focused on strengthening immunization data, we believe our efforts of creating a data use culture can strengthen health services more broadly, including interventions focused on women’s health. We know that healthy women are key to creating healthier communities and we’re proud to partner with Zambia to improve data collection, quality, and use, ultimately leading to improved health outcomes that will benefit generations to come.

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