Council Commentary

New DHS Reports from Kenya and Zambia Point to Improving Maternal and Child Health

Photo credit: Population Council

The most recent Demographic and Health Surveys from Kenya and Zambia show progress in health indicators—particularly in the areas of maternal and child health—and also suggest where more work is needed to ensure people can achieve their full potential.

In Kenya, more and more women are giving birth in health facilities (40% in 2003, 43% in 2008-09, 61% in 2014), and the percentage of women getting postnatal care in the first two days after birth has increased substantially (10% in 2003, 42% in 2008-09, 51% in 2014). In both Kenya and Zambia, increasing numbers of women are using contraception (Kenya: 39% in 2003, 46% in 2008-09, 58% in 2014; Zambia: 34% in 2001-02, 41% in 2007, 49% in 2013-14), indicating the prioritization of women’s health in these countries.

In a little more than 20 years, infant mortality has more than halved in Zambia (107 deaths/1,000 live births in 1992 to 45 deaths/1,000 live births in 2013-14), likely because increasing numbers of births are being assisted by skilled providers (43% in 2002 to 64% in 2013-14).

But progress has been slow on other issues like sexual and gender-based violence and HIV. In Kenya, the percentage of ever-married women who have experienced physical or sexual abuse has not changed since the last DHS (41% in 2008-09 and 2014). And in Zambia, HIV infection is almost unchanged among adults (14% in 2007, 13% in 2013-14).

The Population Council has supported research and programs in Kenya since the 1960s and in Zambia since 1994. We’re proud of the role we’ve played in the development of effective policies, programs, and technologies to improve lives in these and more than 50 other countries around the world. However, our work is not done. By continuing to focus on the development needs and priorities identified by international bodies and national governments we will continue to generate new ideas, collect evidence to evaluate our thinking, and work with our partners to promote positive change.