The programme aimed at bringing down the maternal and infant mortality rates in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) is facing shortage of funds.
As a result, 1,000 community midwives who have undergone training under the programme cannot be facilitated to set up their own clinics, Maternal and Newborn Child Health (MNCH) Provincial Coordinator Dr Khyal Afridi told The Express Tribune.
Dr Afridi said that a total of 1,828 girls with matriculation degrees were trained as community midwives under the MNCH programme, however, only 828 of them could be provided with clinics in different areas of the province. He said it costs Rs200,000 to set up one clinic, adding that the programme administration does not have enough funds to set up clinics for the remaining midwives at once.
Dr Afridi said the administration was supposed to receive a total of Rs2.27 billion until June 30, however, it has only been provided Rs1.04 billion so far. He said the MNCH programme is jointly funded by the K-P government and the Department for International Development (DFID), United Kingdom, adding that both contribute equally to fund the programme.
Dr Afridi said the selected girls were given two years of training in community midwife schools set up in various district headquarter hospitals across the province. During this time, they were required to administer 16 deliveries and were given a monthly stipend of Rs3,500. Upon completion, the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) issued them licences to set up clinics.
The programme coordinator said that of those trained, 528 were inducted in different districts and clinics were set up for them in their own homes. He said that with support from The United Nations International Children Emergency Funds (UNICEF), the administration managed to induct an additional 300 trained midwives.
Dr Afridi said that under the programme clinics were to be set up in all districts of the province apart from Kohistan and Batgram since there were no matric-qualified girls in the two districts to be trained as community midwives. A total of 397 union councils across the province still have no community midwives, he added.
Dr Afridi said that said that the midwives can charge up to Rs500 from patients in the established clinics – which are aimed at facilitating a population of 10,000 – and are required to submit monthly reports to the executive health district officer and the government for two years. In complicated cases, the midwives must refer the patient to a hospital.
“We have made new project cycle under which we have proposed to appoint public health specialists on district levels, establish community midwives schools and train around 600 new CMWs to provide basic health facilities in every corner of the province,” Dr Afridi said. He said around 290 mothers out of 100,000 die every year in the province due to pregnancy-related issue and such programmes go a long way in reducing the burden of maternal and infant mortality rates.
Dr Sharif Ahmed Khan, the director general of the provincial health department, said the government is planning to integrate MNCH, Lady Health Visitor programme and the Nutrition Programme since a number of their tasks overlap.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 11th, 2012.