Catholic Entity’s Project Seeks to Lower Maternal Deaths in Zambia

Credit: CRS

Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the humanitarian arm of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has been running a program in Zambia that seeks to reduce maternal mortality rates in the southern African country.

Dubbed as “Mayi na Mwana project” the CRS project has already registered a 50 percent reduction in maternal mortality rates across 3 district hospitals and 26 health centers in the country.

In a Thursday, December 7 statement, CRS officials explain how volunteers and workers were trained to promote the initiative that was realized in collaboration with the Helmsley Charitable Trust, a global philanthropy that funds holistic programs in sub-Saharan Africa.

“From 2020 to 2023, in the project’s first phase, health workers and volunteers received training to respond to maternity emergencies and provide quality care,” the officials say, and add that 40,000 maternal and child health cases were handled by the group.

The officials say that through the project, the health workers and volunteers reached 30 health facilities and their catchment areas in southern Africa’s three districts of Katete, Petauke, and Sinda.


“During the first phase, maternal deaths in primary health facilities were reduced by 50%, stillbirths were reduced by 30%, while early antenatal care bookings increased from 34 to 47%,” they say.

CRS officials say that the success of the project in the first phase was made possible because the Motor Tricycle Ambulances (MMTA) within these districts were provided as emergency transport for pregnant women and newborns.

The Catholic entity says that male participation in maternal and newborn care was improved by ensuring that men constituted about 50% of volunteers.

In the statement, CRS officials also reflect on the second phase of the project which they say was launched in October and is expected to run until September 2026.

In its second phase, the officials say that the project “is expanding to cover two additional districts and 20 more health facilities, reaching a total of 50 health facilities.”

More in Africa

The officials identify Lusangazi and Chipangali as additional districts with high maternal and perinatal mortality rates that need more trained maternal and child care health workers to combat the issue.

“The project will continue to provide emergency transport, train health workers and volunteers, and improve nutrition, mental health, and gender participation for women of reproductive age and their families,” the officials say in the statement.

In addition, they say, “The project will also set up care groups, savings groups, and MMTA repair shops to support the project participants and sustain project outcomes.”

In the statement, the CRS’ Project Manager for the initiative in Zambia says that the project has reached thousands of women in the Eastern Province of Zambia and that healthcare facilities in the project also served more than 3,000 women from Mozambique.

“The training and mentorship the project provides to health workers has improved their management of maternity emergencies,” says Moses Chirwa.


Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.