Investing in Zambia’s Health and Development
Family planning is the most cost-effective way to prevent maternal, infant, and child mortality. It can reduce maternal mortality by reducing the number of unintended pregnancies, the number of unsafe abortions, and the proportion of high-risk births. In Zambia, an increased use of modern methods of contraception averted over 312,000 unintended pregnancies, 60,000 unsafe abortions and over 1000 maternal deaths in 2015. Family planning is also linked to additional long-term health, social, and economic benefits. It reduces infant mortality, slows the spread of HIV/AIDS, promotes gender equality, reduces poverty, accelerates socioeconomic development and protects the environment.
These long-term benefits have the potential to radically change the development trajectory of a country like Zambia where more than 60% of the population lives below the poverty line. Increased economic opportunities and growth can only happen if families have the number of children they can care for and educate to create a highly skilled workforce.
Zambia’s current fertility rate is 5.3 births per woman If this rate remains unchanged, Zambia’s population would reach over 33 million people by 2037. However, if the Government of Zambia makes investments in family planning now, by 2037, total fertility would be reduced from 5.3 to 2.2 births and projected population would be 23 million. These two fertility scenarios have fundamental implications for the education, health, and development sectors.