Located in southern Africa, Zambia is a landlocked country with a rapidly growing population of about 17 million people. The country’s population is predominantly young, with almost half of the population under 15.
Despite strong economic growth in recent years, Zambia has one of the highest levels of inequality worldwide. In rural areas, widespread poverty and high unemployment remain significant problems, both made worse by a variety of factors including a high birth rate (almost 6 children per woman) and a relatively high burden of HIV/AIDS.
The HIV epidemic
HIV is the leading cause of death in Zambia. The epidemic is one of the country’s main challenges to improving public health and economic development.
Zambia has a national HIV prevalence rate of 12% among adults. In 2019, an estimated 1.2 million people in the country were living with HIV/AIDS, with young women more than twice as likely to contract the virus than young men.
Nearly one-third of all households in Zambia are caring for foster or orphaned children, and 380,000 children and adolescents have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS since the epidemic began.
A shortage of health workers
Zambia struggles to deliver adequate health services in part as a result of a shortage of health workers. The country has only 11 doctors, nurses, and midwives for every 10,000 people — merely half of the WHO minimum recommended threshold of 22.8 health workers for every 10,000 people — and every year, around 10% of the health workforce is lost to attrition.
The gaps are highest in rural areas, where the majority of the country’s population resides.
Our work in Zambia
Mitigating the impact of HIV/AIDS
Addressing the needs of vulnerable children and adolescents is important to controlling the HIV epidemic in Zambia. Project HOPE, in partnership with the Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia, is supporting vulnerable children and their families in seven high-burden districts across three provinces with health, education, livelihood, protection, and other social services.
We are improving access to health and HIV services, including antiretroviral therapy and adherence support, and improving household economic security by increasing caregivers’ access to opportunities and income to help pay for essentials like food, school fees, and medical costs. We’re also improving children’s protection; the prevention of gender-based violence; and working closely with district education boards, school communities, child protection workers, and mothers groups to help keep children in school and on track to progress.
All of our work is tailored to meet the specific needs of individual children, households, and communities and implemented in partnership with the Government of Zambia, local and international NGOs, and the private sector. It has involved strengthening health systems through established health management information systems and strengthening the health work force to improve the quality and delivery of care.