Infant mortality: ‘Breastfeeding can combat infant mortality’

UNICEF officials meet minister to discuss mother and child health issues

Our Correspondent February 27, 2018

LAHORE: Promotion of breastfeeding is essential to overcome the infant mortality rate and the issue of stunting in children. Social mobilisation is the need of the hour.

This was discussed in a meeting held between a five-member delegation of UNICEF and Minister for Specialised Healthcare and Medical Education Khawaja Salman Rafique on Monday.

The delegation was of the view that the performance of the Punjab government in the health sector is commendable compared to other provinces. It was discussed that IT solutions introduced in the health sector were improving the working of the hospitals and institutions.

During the meeting, detailed deliberations were made on the issues of infant mortality, maternal mortality and mother and child health.

The meeting reviewed the steps taken to introduce Sick Newborn Care Units (SNCU) and Kangaroo Mother Care Centers (KMC) and training as well as capacity building of the staff.

It was stated that eight SNCUs have already been established in as many hospitals of Punjab including DHQ Hospital of Mianwali, Hafizabad, Bhakkar and Bahawalpur and four teaching hospitals of Lahore. These include Government Nawaz Sharif Yakki Gate Hospital, Government Mian Munshi Hospital, Lady Aitchison Hospital and Services Hospital.

The latest equipment was provided to these centers after the renovation of the buildings and the WHO Islamabad imparted training to the staff. So far 21,500 new born babies were provided healthcare facilities in these units.

Moreover, KMC facility was introduced in the Services Hospital for which UNICEF has provided technical assistance where, up till now, 390 premature babies have been provided medical treatment.

The scope of KMC has been expanded and similar centers replicated in Jinnah Hospital and Lady Aitchison Hospital as well as in DHQ Hospitals of Bahawalnagar, Layyah and Lodhran. UNICEF also provided training to the 400 healthcare providers for this purpose.

The UNICEF delegation comprised on the Regional Director Dr Jame Gream, Country Representative IDA, Chief of Field Officer Douglas, Chief Health UNICEF Dr Candy and health specialist UNICEF Punjab Dr Tahir Manzoor. Additional Secretary SHME (Technical) Dr Salman Shahid, Principal Services Institute of Medical Sciences Dr Mehmood Ayaz, MS Services Hospital Dr Muhammad Aamir and Dr Rubina Sohail were also present in the meeting.

The delegation said that the Punjab Information Technology Board is also helping Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa to replicate these IT solutions in the health sector.

It added this was a good example of interprovincial cooperation.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister Health Khawaja Salman Rafique informed the delegation that the chief minister of Punjab has introduced rural ambulance services for pregnant women to reduce maternal and infant mortality in Punjab.

The minister added that during the last eight years, the health budget has been multiplied manifold and special attention is being given on the prevention of disease programme and immunisation of children under the EPI.

He said a PC-I would be immediately prepared and sent to departments concerned for approval to enhance the programme of KMC and SNCU in Punjab.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 27th, 2018. 

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