ISLAMABAD: In a bid to tackle the high neonatal mortality rate in the country, the Drug Regulatory Authority (Drap) has decided to register a chlorhexidine gel on a fast-track basis.
The gel helps tackle cord infection, one of the three main reasons for high neonatal mortality rate.
Neonatal mortality in Pakistan, where 4.1 per cent of newborn children die within the first month of their birth, is the highest in South East Asia.
About 29 per cent of these deaths, or around a third, take place due to infection of the umbilical cord. Recently the World Health Organisation (WHO) strongly recommended the application of chlorhexidine gel 7.1 per cent for umbilical cord care, especially till 14 days
The Drap has now given its nod to register the chlorhexidine gel 7.1 per cent in an expeditious process to help bring down the neonatal death rate due to cord infection.
Last year, local companies attempted to manufacture the gel on the recommendation of Mother and Child Health programme to make it available at cheaper prices.
Initially the WHO and later the USP-PQM – who provided manufacturing technology and quality control process support - along with Drap to ensure quality and stability of the product.
Finally, around four to five local manufacturers managed to make a stable product.
Drap, therefore, registered these products with an out-of-queue treatment on urgent basis. Its prices were also fixed and recently approved by the federal government and now will soon be available in the market.
“Pakistan has proven to be a model success story among the countries where WHO has emphasised the early development of locally manufactured products to ensure access to safe and effective products at affordable prices,” said Drap CEO Aslam Afghani.
“The product will be used in primary health workers programme coordinating with mother and child health Initiative,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 11th, 2017.
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