With one in seven of the population testing positive for the HIV virus, Zambia is among the top ten countries burdened with the highest prevalence in the world. In the Nakatindi area this statistic is sadly even higher, estimated at one in four people testing positive.
Of great concern is the transmission of HIV from mother to infant during childbirth. Identifying HIV status early on is critical to preventing the transmission of HIV from mother to child, and with maternal care provided by skilled government healthcare professionals throughout delivery and postnatal care, the reality of HIV free babies being born can hopefully be realised.
Countrywide the HIV infection rates among pregnant women remain high at 16.4%. According to UNICEF, 28,000 babies are born HIV positive every year in Zambia, and 120,000 Zambian children are living with HIV.
In recent years the rate of infection in infants has declined largely thanks to the implementation of programmes for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission. These prevention and treatment services, which include the provision of antiretroviral therapy, have expanded quickly; however, the majority of these facilities are located in the country’s urban centres and are out of reach for the 60% of Zambians living in rural areas. Facing long distances without access to transportation, the majority of women in Zambia still give birth at home without the assistance of a skilled health worker.
The new 275 square metre maternity ward recently constructed at Nakatindi is Sanctuary Retreats Philanthropy's largest investment to date and provides increased capacity for antenatal care, which currently only 19% of Zambian mothers experience. Thanks to the generosity of Sanctuary Retreats' guests, the facility features a delivery room, sluice, antenatal & postnatal rooms, ultrasound room, duty room for stay over staff, washrooms and an office.