There are an estimated 600,000 births, and 2,600 maternal and 20,400 newborn deaths every year in Zambia.

While Zambia has had modest improvements in maternal health since 1990, a woman's lifetime risk of maternal death – the probability that a 15-year-old girl will eventually die from a maternal cause –is 100 times greater than that of a high income country such as Norway or the United States.1

Maternal and newborn deaths are largely preventable and are indicative of inaccessible and poor-quality health care facilities, inadequacies of the health system, and low demand for and utilization of maternal and newborn health services. For example, although 94 percent of Zambian women have at least one antenatal care visit, only 48 percent of women give birth in a health facility.

In September 2011, the Ministry of Health chose the four districts of Mansa, Kalomo, Lundazi, and Nyimba to pilot the Saving Mothers, Giving Life effort. They were selected because of their strong district leadership and commitment of the local government, the existing United States government platforms in each district, and demonstrated need for intensified maternal health programs. Saving Mothers, Giving Life is rapidly implementing the Maternal and Newborn Health Roadmap (2007-2014) outlined by the Zambian Government, and supporting advocacy efforts through the government's Campaign to Accelerate the Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa– Zambia (CARMMA- Z). These plans build upon the existing PEPFAR and maternal and child health structures and experience.

1 WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA and the World Bank. 2012. Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990 to 2010.