The Health Department is celebrating the Mother and Child Week to ensure that new mothers and their children are protected from various diseases. The mothers will be told about hygiene and how they can create a healthier environment for themselves and their child.
The week is being celebrated in collaboration with the World Health Organisation, the United Nations International Children Education Fund and the United Nations Population Fund.
The inaugural ceremony in Lahore was presided over by Khwaja Salman Rafiq, special assistant to chief minister on health, at the Government Mian Munshi Hospital.
Briefing the ceremony about the objectives of the week, Dr Akhtar Rasheed Malik, the National Programme for Family Planning and Primary Health provincial coordinator, said that 49,000 lady health workers would pay door-to-door visits to provide basic information regarding children’s health and that of expecting mothers. He said more than 5,000 community health workers will assist the lady health workers.
He said that more than 7 million children would be given de-worm tablets and 600,000 will be immunised. As many as one million expecting women will be vaccinated for tetanus and 3.7 million and given folic acid tablets. At counselling sessions, women will be told about the importance of at least four antenatal care visits, delivery by a skilled birth attendant, postnatal care, early initiation of breast feeding, exclusive breast feeding, child’s immunisation and optimal birth spacing.
In his address, Rafiq appreciated the support of international donor agencies. He also asked for media’s support for the cause.
Quoting from recent reports of international institutions, the special assistant said that one out of 10 children did not survive up to the fifth birthday, mostly due to pneumonia and diarrhoea.
He said it was a matter of great concern and called for a comprehensive strategy to control these mortalities. According to the same reports, he said, every year Pakistan witnessed preventable deaths of nearly 432,000 children below five years of age. Of these, he added, two-thirds died within 28 days of birth. As many as, 20,000 mothers died during childbirth or due to pregnancy related complications, these reports state.
Special Secretary (Health) Dawood Muhammad Bareach, Director General Dr Nisar Cheema, EDO Dr Inamul Haq, Government Mian Munshi Hospital medical superintendent Dr Muhammad Shafqat and UNICEF and World Health Organisation representatives were also present.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 22nd, 2012.