Inflation strains maternal health

Report paints grim picture of impoverished families’ health outlook

Jamil Mirza February 18, 2024


Pregnant women and children from low-income families facing heightened stress due to poverty and inflation are grappling with severe health issues, revealed a report from the Rawalpindi District Health Authority's Clinic-On-Wheels initiative.

The pressing challenges of poverty and inflation have rendered pregnant women and young children in these households more susceptible to anaemia due to limited access to clean water, nutritious food, and fruits.

Launched a month and a half ago, the "clinic-on-wheel" initiative operates with eight vehicles across 15 union councils in Rawalpindi. The programme aims to provide free medical facilities to young children and pregnant women, identifying health problems under the Prime Minister's Initiative Program for Mother and Child Health.

The initiative encompasses guidelines for healthy living, free medicines, and various tests, including Hepatitis A, B, C, ultrasound, anaemia, and sugar tests. The mobile clinics reach the doorsteps of residents in Dhok Rata, Rata Amaral, Dhoke Hassu, Cantt areas, Rahmatabad, Dhok Dalal, and other areas.

The current situation highlights the physical frailty and anaemia prevalent among women who lack access to sufficient food and fruits. Young children are also experiencing physical weakness due to anaemia.

ReadPunjab maternal deaths spike

District health authorities advise pregnant women with health issues to avoid further pregnancies and encourage family planning. The clinic-on-wheels not only provides necessary medications but also offers family planning counselling from experts available on-site.

Integrated Reproductive Maternal Newborn Child Health and Nutrition Programme (IRMNCH) Coordinator Dr Naveed Akhtar Malik said the clinic-on-wheels initiative is a premier programme delivering quality and free healthcare to pregnant women and children at their doorsteps.

Currently operating with eight vehicles in 15 union councils, the programme plans to expand to seven more union councils with additional vehicles.

Dr Malik emphasised the oversight of Dr Jamal Nasir, the Punjab Health Minister, and Dr Ijaz Ahmed, the Chief Executive of the District Health Authority, who actively monitor the programme, ensuring daily reports and guidance.

The clinic-on-wheels has already reached 50,000 women and children, providing free tests, screenings, and medications, aiming to bridge the gap in treatment facilities for those affected by poverty, he said.

Dr Malik anticipates the programme's continuation in 15 Rawalpindi union councils for an additional two to three months, offering comprehensive healthcare through mobile clinics staffed by experienced doctors and technical staff.

Besides medical treatment, the clinic-on-wheels service undertakes awareness programmes for polio vaccination and prevention of dengue and epidemic diseases.

Under the pilot project, the initiative was first launched in the rural areas of Rawalpindi tehsil.

As part of the initiative, each vehicle has a male doctor and female doctor, a nutrition officer, family planning staff, and laboratory test staff and is equipped with essential medicines.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 18th 2024.


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