Saving Mothers, Giving Life Reports One-Third Reduction in Maternal Mortality in One Year

Partnership reveals improved maternal health outcomes in Uganda and Zambia pilot districts

WASHINGTON, Jan. 9, 2014 – The number of women dying during pregnancy and childbirth declined sharply over one year in eight pilot districts in Uganda and Zambia where Saving Mothers, Giving Life has deployed a battery of life-saving interventions, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-led public-private partnership announced today. The first annual report, a comprehensive evaluation of the initiative's efforts to strengthen health systems and reduce the number of preventable maternal deaths, revealed a 30 percent decrease in the maternal mortality ratio in target districts of Uganda and a 35 percent reduction in target facilities in Zambia in its first year.

"We are excited to report such clear progress just one year after launching Saving Mothers," said Dr. Rajiv Shah, Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). "There is, perhaps, no better model for us than Saving Mothers, Giving Life, which—at its core—exemplifies our commitment to ending preventable child and maternal death around the world."

The high rate of women dying from complications of pregnancy and childbirth remains an urgent challenge in sub-Saharan Africa, where many maternal deaths occur. The report indicates that the Saving Mothers, Giving Life approach – an intensive, "big push" effort to strengthen health services focused on the critical period of labor, delivery, and the first 48 hours postpartum – can produce impressive and quick results in saving women's lives.  Reducing maternal mortality is considered particularly important, as it is regarded as an indicator of the overall functioning of health systems.

"In the first year of Saving Mothers, interventions like health worker training, infrastructure improvements and linkages to transportation have helped save women's lives," said Professor Elwyn Chomba, Permanent Secretary, Zambia Ministry of Community Development, Mother and Child Health. "The pace and scale of this work will go a long way in helping Zambia meet its targets for reducing maternal mortality."

"Uganda has made significant progress in improving maternal health outcomes over the past two decades," said Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, Director General, Uganda Ministry of Health, "but too many women still face life-threatening circumstances when they give birth. Our partnership with Saving Mothers has helped us augment existing national programs which seek to ensure safe and healthy pregnancies and childbirths throughout the country."

According to an evaluation led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and USAID, Saving Mothers interventions have generated a range of positive outcomes associated with improved maternal health outcomes, including:

  • Rise in deliveries taking place in a health facility (62 percent increase in Uganda, 35 percent increase in Zambia)
  • Increased access to Basic Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (200 percent increase in facilities offering emergency services in Uganda, 100 percent increase in facilities offering emergency services in Zambia)
  • Expanded testing and treatment for HIV/AIDS (28 percent increase in treatment for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV in Uganda, 18 percent increase in treatment for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV in Zambia)

Additional findings from the evaluation are featured in the report "Making Pregnancy and Childbirth Safer in Uganda and Zambia," which can be found at

# # #

For more information about USAID and its programs, please visit
Press Contact: USAID Press Office
Telephone: +1-202-712-4320

The American people, through the U.S. Agency for International Development, have provided economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide for over 50 years.

Saving Mothers, Giving Life

Saving Mothers, Giving Life is a five-year public-private partnership working to save women’s lives from complications of pregnancy and childbirth by strengthening health services in countries facing high levels of maternal mortality and HIV. Through Saving Mothers, HIV and maternal and child health platforms are being leveraged and further integrated to accelerate results and save more lives. Launched by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in June 2012, Saving Mothers’ leadership includes the U.S. Government, the Government of Norway, Merck for Mothers, Every Mother Counts, Project C.U.R.E. and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists as well as leadership from the Governments of Uganda and Zambia. For more information about the partnership, please visit


Back to News