Delivering vital care to mothers in Zambia

The Chisankane Health Center in the Kafue District of Zambia serves up to 10,000 people in the surrounding communities. Its manager, Sister Joyce, works as the clinic’s only full-time employee.

Committed to making her community a better place, Sister Joyce provides incredible care to her patients and goes beyond the call of duty. Much of her day-to-day work includes delivering babies and giving care to expectant mothers, and she is available for emergencies both day and night.

But just 15% of women in the area deliver at Chisankane Health Center – compared with the 67% who give birth in health centers nationally. Distance and a lack of reliable transportation present a challenge for most households – some of which are 29 km away. The capacity of the health center also limited the number of patients they can see.

Sister Joyce

To combat these challenges, a group of volunteers assist Sister Joyce by walking into the communities to give care to expectant and new mothers. The volunteers work under the Safe Motherhood Action Groups (SMAGs) program and perform duties such as monitoring the pregnant women and advising them on healthy practices and performing basic antenatal services like weighing babies, teaching infant nutrition, and performing tests to ensure the babies are healthy. These volunteers would often walk long distances to assist women in the farthest villages.

To help the SMAGs and Sister Joyce, in October 2018, World Bicycle Relief partnered with the Association for Aid and Relief (AAR) Japan to donate 41 Buffalo Bicycles to the Chisankane Health Center.

Now, armed with two wheels, volunteers can reach more mothers in a day and attend to emergencies more quickly. The health volunteers also feel more motivated and energized to perform their daily duties.

Within a month of receiving the bicycles, the SMAGs reported doubling the number of patients they could see each day and remarked how much of a difference the bicycles made to their lives, making their jobs easier and cutting down the amount of time on the road.

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