Maternal health: ‘Pakistan cannot achieve MDG 5 by 2015’

Lack of coordination, credible data cited as factors.

Sehrish Wasif July 06, 2012
Maternal health: ‘Pakistan cannot achieve MDG 5 by 2015’


Pakistan will not be able to achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5, that relate to bringing about an improvement in maternal health, by the targeted year of 2015. This was stated by Special Adviser to the Prime Minister and Chairperson National Assembly Special Committee on MDGs Shahnaz Wazir Ali on Thursday.

She was addressing participants at a National Policy Dialogue on Monitoring Implementation of MDG 5 in Pakistan at a local hotel.

Ali said dictatorship, slow pace of work, lack of integrated coordination and planning between the federal and provincial ministries after the 18th amendment and unavailability of credible data on health and family planning are major factors behind the failure to achieve the set targets on time.

She expressed concern over low prevalence of safe family planning measures which is one of the major reasons behind high maternal mortality rate in Balochistan despite heavy funding. Ali revealed that allocations under the NFC Award for Population Welfare were need-based rather than determined by population size and hoped that these would be used to promote maternal health. “Now the provinces have to come up with strategies to enable the country to achieve the targets. The federal government will, however continue to offer financial support,” she said.

Presenting the findings of the research on progress achieved so far under the MDG 5, Khawar Mumtaz said that the maternal mortality rate (MMR) is 276 per 100,000 live births in the country which needs to be reduced to 140 by 2015. Similarly, contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) is 30% which needs to be increased to 55% by 2015, while total fertility rate (TFR) is 4.1 live births per woman which need to be reduced to 2.1.

In Balochistan, MMR is 785 per 100,000, CPR is 14%, while TFR is 4.1. Discussing the appalling situation in his province, Balochistan Health Minister Haji Ainullah Shams said the term family planning is taken as a plan for not having children in the province, which needs to change.

Similarly the province is deprived of all basic health facilities and health officials who are deputed in the BHUs they are not given any incentives or facilities, he added.

Moreover, the report presented by Mumtaz stated that widespread unmet need for family planning among women and no safe abortion or post-abortion care is available across the country. In rural areas, basic health units have inadequate staff while some are inaccessible due to inconvenient location. A whole range of unregulated informal and formal health services result in widespread quackery, negligence and malpractice.

MNA Nafisa Shah said the committee on MDGs should come up with guidelines to address issues regarding family planning and health. She recommended better coordination between health and population welfare departments to avoid duplication of services and effort after the 18th amendment.

Meanwhile, Secretary Federal Bureau of Statistics Sohail Ahmed emphasised on the need for federal government to re-invent its role post-18th amendment for coordination of international commitments and to serve as a bridge between provinces and donors for achievement of MDGs. He suggested the federal government should offer matching grants to provinces for achievement of MDGs.

The event was organised by Shirkat Gah Women’s Resource Centre.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2012.


Riaz Haq | 12 years ago | Reply

Dr. Donald Thea, a Boston University researcher and author of a recent Lancet Study of Pakistan's Lady Health Workers Program, wrote that “it (LHWP) is one of the best community-based health systems in the world.” Significant timely expansion in the LHW program and making it more effective can still help Pakistan get close to its MDGs on important health indicators like the infant mortality rate (IMR) and the maternal mortality rate (MMR). What it needs is serious focus.

Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ