Evidence, research-based policies stressed to improve infant and maternal health

Published: March 8, 2012

Unequal access to healthcare and provision of healthcare vary between the poor and wealthy and even between provinces. PHOTO: SXC.HU

ISLAMABAD: 

Participants of a conference expressed their concern over Pakistan’s maternal and infant mortality rates.

They advocated policies based on evidences and non-clinical research to improve practices related to maternal and newborn health, in which Pakistan is currently ranked the sixth worst in the world.

The conference was organised by the Research Advocacy Fund (RAF) at a local hotel here on Wednesday.

Though the government has tried to overcome neonatal morbidity and mortality over the last 15 years, it has failed to achieve the required level and the rates remain high.

The conference presented findings from various RAF funded projects — a baseline survey of eight key family practices in Sindh said Pakistan account for 7% of global neonatal deaths with an estimated 298,000 preventable deaths, while just 46% of neonates are reportedly immunised.

A Balochistan-based study reflects the maternal mortality ratio is significantly higher than the rest of the country with 785 deaths reported per 100,000 live births. Postpartum bleeding, one of the major causes of maternal mortality, is considered healthy for the mother.

The unequal access to healthcare and provision of healthcare vary between the poor and wealthy and even between provinces, which participants believed are among the major reasons behind high mortality rates. This coupled with socio-cultural structures which derail women empowerment and lack access or the propensity to avail basic health facilities, prove a disastrous partnership.

Health Services Academy Executive Director Dr Assad Hafeez said research should not be confined to the academic world, but used in policies and practices to help save the lives of mothers and newborns.

Department for International Development UK Senior Health Advisor Desmond Whyms said their primary health priority in Pakistan is saving the lives of women and children. RAF, managed by the British Council, funds non-clinical research and evidence-based advocacy related to maternal and newborn health.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 8th, 2012.

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