Ensuring Availability of Life-Saving Equipment in Zambia

Speeches Shim

A woman and her baby outside of a maternal and child health clinic in Zambia
A woman and her baby outside of a maternal and child health clinic in Zambia
Amy Fowler

Having essential equipment and supplies available at the time they are needed, such as during unexpected hemorrhage after delivery is critical to USAID’s ability to save lives. The availability of crucial supplies such as the Uterine Balloon Tamponade kits at health facilities is the result of USAID investments to create a sustainable supply chain. USAID works with countries like Zambia to ensure that necessary medical equipment is available to health workers when they need to treat their patients. Ensuring the availability of essential equipment means making sure the systems are in place to order, deliver and use quality medication and supplies in a timely manner, including innovations like Uterine Balloon Tamponades that hold great promise for overcoming barriers to care for women and children.

In March 2017, a woman was referred from Mwase Lundazi health center to the nearest hospital. After giving birth, she went into shock and began to experience life threatening postpartum hemorrhaging. Medical officer Dr. L. F. Balungisa administered Oxytocin and removed excess tissue in the uterus. However, the new mother continued to bleed. After further examination, Balungisa knew the cause of the woman’s bleeding was uterine atony, or failure of the uterus to contract after childbirth, and that a medical product known as a Uterine Balloon Tamponade could save her life. Balungisa assembled one with a condom, catheter and IV line, inserted it into the mother’s uterus, and stopped the bleeding. The woman and her baby were discharged days after the procedure and Balungisa now knows that keeping spare Uterine Balloon Tamponade kits in the office can mean a matter of life or death. USAID’s efforts to include the Uterine Balloon Tamponade to treat postpartum hemorrhaging in the national emergency obstetric and newborn care training curriculum and ensure the components necessary are part of the essential supplies list in Zambia, have resulted in increased access to the effective technology as well as increased knowledge by medical staff like Dr. Balungisa.

USAID supports measures to ensure that people have sustained access to and make appropriate use of safe, effective, and quality medical products to improve their health status and save lives. We do this by partnering with countries to strengthen pharmaceutical systems to ensure the uninterrupted supply of quality-assured health commodities, pioneer new and more effective products, and implement policies and systems to monitor quality and control costs or wastage due to inefficient management of stock and supply. Zambia’s efforts related to strengthening essential medical products, vaccines, and technologies, when scaled up with a package of other proven health systems interventions, can contribute to saving over 59,000 lives from 2016-2020.

Meet more of the women and children that benefit from USAID's efforts.

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