ISLAMABAD: A country-wide survey will be started on March 1 to ascertain child and maternal mortality rates in Pakistan.
The survey is being organised by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and was announced at a seminar at the Maternal & Child Health Centre auditorium of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) on Saturday.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Professor Syeda Batool, the country co-ordinator of the survey and a senior gynecologist of Pims, said that the survey is planned to be carried out in 26 countries in North and South America, Africa and Asia. A total of 400 health facilities will be monitored.
“The prime objective of the survey is to study the occurrence and the management of maternal and neonatal conditions associated with mortality rates in a worldwide network of health facilities,” Batool said. “These results will also help assess the quality of care and the use of preventive and therapeutic methods,” she added.
According to the Pakistan Demographic Health Survey 2006-07, the incidence of child mortality is 78 for every 1,000 live births. One in every 11 children in the country dies before the age of five and more than half these deaths occur during the first month after birth. The mother mortality ratio is 276 for every 100,000 live births, with women between the ages of 25 and 29 being especially at risk.
In Pakistan, 16 health facilities have been randomly selected in Sindh, Punjab and Islamabad to carry out the survey.
Professor Shereen Bhutta will be the Sindh provincial co-ordinator and Professor Arif Tajammul will be the Punjab provincial co-coordinator.
“In Islamabad, the survey will be conducted in Pims and Polyclinic,” Dr Batool said.
The survey will be conducted over a period of two to three months and during this time all pregnant women coming to the hospital for delivery will be examined and remain under observation till seven days after their deliveries. “The number of infant
and mother mortality cases is rising day by day and this is of grave concern to us,
there has been no improvement in the past 30 years,” she said.
Dr Batool said unawareness was the main hurdle in the country to reduce the incidence of mother and infant mortality. “Many women in Pakistan prefer to go to mid-wives or untrained staff for their deliveries rather than trained doctors,” she explained. These people are unable to deal with any complications that might arise during birth, she added.
Obstetric bleeding, for instance, is responsible for one-third of all maternal deaths but can easily be prevented by administering an injection to the mother immediately after giving birth.
“I am hopeful that the survey would help in understanding these challenges better,” she concluded.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 13th, 2011.
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