Celebrate Solutions: Partnership to Save Women and Babies in Uganda, Zambia, and Nigeria

By: Sara Pellegrom; Women Deliver

Last week, at the Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference, USAID and partners released the Saving Mothers, Giving Life Mid-Initiative Report. Halfway through the five-year project, the report highlights a reduction of nearly 50 percent in maternal deaths in targeted Ugandan and Zambian facilities.

Launched in 2012, Saving Mothers, Giving Life (SMGL) is a public-private partnership that takes an integrated, holistic, and collaborative approach to health systems. The initiative works with national governments to target women in the critical period of labor, delivery, and 48 hours postpartum – most maternal deaths and half of newborn deaths occur during this time.  The project focuses on the “three delays” – the delay in seeking services, the delay in reaching services, and the delay in receiving high-quality services. Over the past 18 months, SMGL has expanded it high-quality and safe childbirth services for women and newborns to 16 more districts in Uganda, Zambia, and Nigeria.

So far, the project has been a great success. In Uganda, since June 2012, the community maternal mortality ratio has gone down 41%. Nearly all (90%) of women who test HIV+ are receiving treatment to prevent the transmission of the virus to their newborns and the number of infants born to HIV+ mothers who are receiving prophylaxis treatment has increased by 42%. In Zambia, nearly 90% of women living in the target gave birth in a facility this year – compared to 63% in 2012. In addition, the initiative has lowered the obstetric case fatality rate by 46%. Given the project’s achievements, the SMGL expanded to Nigeria, which accounts for 14% and 25% of global maternal and newborn deaths respectively.

“The results of Saving Mothers, Giving Life speak for themselves: setting a high bar to save women’s lives was the right approach for this ambitious public-private partnership,” writes Dr. Naveen Rao of Merck for Mothers.

“Making sure women receive high quality services wherever they seek care is the key to a healthy pregnancy and a safe childbirth. And, as we’ve learned from other successful initiatives, a comprehensive effort that goes beyond any single intervention is our best bet to achieve substantial and sustainable gains in maternal health.”

To learn more about Saving Mothers, Giving Life please visit there website here

Photo via: Vestergaard Frandsen

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