In order to translate global commitments of ensuring access to sexual and reproductive healthcare services for every woman and every girl into practical, affordable and sustainable interventions, policy makers and implementers need to be able to draw on solid evidence of what does and does not work.
The More Mobilising Access to Maternal Health Services in Zambia programme (MORE MAMaZ), funded by the UK charity Comic Relief (2014-2016), achieved transformational change for women and girls, particularly those who are under-supported at household and community level by successfully scaling up an evidence-based demand-side intervention in support of the Ministry of Health’s safe motherhood policy response.
MORE MAMaZ punched above its weight in so many ways. The health-related results achieved can be seen in this infographic, including institutional delivery rates up at 89% in intervention districts, compared to the national average for rural areas of 56%. There has also been a significant improvement in the proportion of women opting for early antenatal care, which is a key priority of the MOH.
Behind these results lie other gains which are just as important: considerable empowerment-related gains, which will help to position women and girls so that they benefit from other development-related opportunities in the future; a very significant reduction in gender-based violence; and evidence that the most difficult to reach women and girls are being targeted and supported by their communities.
It is also worth noting that the training approach used by the programme helped produce volunteer retention rates of 82% among volunteers trained 4-5 years ago and 95% among volunteers trained two years ago. These rates are much higher than those achieved by many other similar programmes globally.
MORE MAMaZ showcases to a large extent what Health Partners International does best: developing and supporting implementation of practical and sustainable systems-oriented solutions to global health challenges; achieving value for money – MORE MAMaZ achieved more than MAMaZ while working on a considerably larger scale; and forming honest and lasting partnerships with government and consortium partners, while building sustainable local capacity.
We invite you to read the programme’s seven evidence briefs, which showcase the results achieved, and different components of the approach, and other programme materials, including the 8 key messages for policy makers in the health sector, and to share them within your networks. Many of the strategies and approaches developed by the programme and its local partners lend themselves to adaptation for implementation in different contexts.
By Cathy Green, Technical Lead- Community Health Systems, Health Partners International