Minister of Community Development, Mother and Child Health Joseph Katema has bemoaned the high maternal mortality rates that the country continues to experience.
Dr Katema noted that Zambia has continued to be one of the countries with the highest maternal mortality rate in the world at 591 per 1000,000 live births.
The Minister indicated that the child and infant mortality rates have remained at 119 and 70 per 1000 live births respectively while neonatal mortality rate stands at 34.
Dr Katema made these remarks in Lusaka on May 30th when he officially launched the Safe Motherhood Radio Distance Learning Programme at the Mulungushi International Conference Centre.
The Minister stated that only 47 percent of births are attended to by a skilled health worker at health institutions adding that home delivery is as high as 53 percent because communities in rural areas have limited access to health care.
He however attributed the situation to inadequate information on sexual and reproductive health especially among young people and rural populations as well as inadequate capacity of health services in case of complications during pregnancy among other things.
Dr Katema said most maternal deaths could be avoided if women could get access to a health facility during pregnancy, child birth and delivery.
Zambia Integrated Systems Strengthening Programme (ZISSP) Chief of Party Kathleen Poer said the programme is aimed at improving on community knowledge on safe motherhood.
She noted that radio is the most frequently used source of information and it is also cost effective and an alternative way of providing refresher and continued education of Safe Motherhood Action Groups (SMAGS) who will be pioneering the programme.
Ms Poer said the programme, which is lined up in 26 episodes, will be carried out on Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) radio stations in English and seven (7) local languages.
And USAID- Zambia Team Leader Sangita Patel said the radio programme will allow information to reach many people in the community and reinforce key messages such as access to health services, particularly for the care of the newborn.