Health issues and progress in Zambia

Zambia is currently working towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. To achieve the targets for the reduction of child mortality, which forms MDG 4, Zambia should reduce under-five deaths per 1,000 live births to 64, and increase measles immunisation to 100 per cent by 2015. In 2012, under-five mortality stood at 89 deaths per 1,000 live births, a notable decrease from 95 in 2011, and measles immunisation had slipped from 91 per cent in 2010 to 83 per cent in 2011. With further progress, Zambia may achieve the measles immunisation target. If the under-five mortality trajectory continues to improve substantially over the next few years, Zambia may move further towards the MDG 4 target by 2015. The government has stated that it is unlikely Zambia will achieve this target by 2015.

The global MDG 5 target for maternal health is to reduce the number of women who die in pregnancy and childbirth by three quarters between 1990 and 2015. When applying this target to Zambia, maternal mortality should fall to 118 cases per 100,000 live births. In the period 2007-11 Zambia had a reported maternal mortality ratio of 590 deaths per 100,000 live births (this figure was estimated at 440 by UN agencies/World Bank in 2010). Based on the data reported by the country, this target is unlikely to be achieved by 2015. Part of the goal also stipulates that 100 per cent of births must be attended by a skilled health professional. In the period 2007-12, this figure stood at 47 per cent, so this target is also off track.

MDG 6 aims for a reduction in the prevalence of HIV, malaria and other diseases. Although there has been a slight reduction in the prevalence of HIV in the period 1993-2012, the percentage of the population infected with the disease remains very high. The number of deaths from malaria has shown a decrease since 2001.
Mortality (when data excludes cases co-morbid with HIV) from TB more than halved in the period 1990-2012. Despite these positive results, changes must be made, especially in regard to HIV/AIDS, if the country is to make significant progress towards achieving MDG 6. Since 2000 the number of new infections of HIV in children has reduced dramatically, with new infections in infants dropping from 27,978 in 2000 to 9,726 in 2011, and from 5,520 in 2009 to 2,946 in 2011, among children between one and four years old.

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