KARACHI: Promising to improve healthcare in Pakistan, the US forges an initiative of $387 million, under the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) programme, launched by the US ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olsen on Friday.
At the launching ceremony of this five-year project, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the ambassador and Sindh health secretary, Inamullah Khan Dharejo.
In this programme, US Agency for International Development (USAID) aims to trim down maternal and child mortality rates by supporting Pakistan’s efforts in reaching out more women and children to help them sustain integrated family planning, maternal newborn and child health services.
“The main goal of this programme is to dramatically avert mortality rates,” said Olsen. He proclaimed, “Our target is to avert 4,000 maternal deaths, infant mortality by 13 per cent, and increasing the use of skilled birth attendants by 38 per cent.” He added that this initiative would lead to another landmark for US – Pakistan cooperation in the health sector.
The MCH programme would bring innovative approaches to strengthen the capacity of Pakistan’s public and private sectors by intervening in healthcare systems. This programme would also give technical assistance to the health and population sectors at the federal, provincial, and district levels.
It would further forge partnerships between international and local health experts to introduce cutting-edge health approaches and models to all provinces in Pakistan. This would help women have better access to emergency obstetric care, modern contraception and assure essential newborn care.
Mothers would be equipped with all the necessary information about hygiene, nutrition, immunisation, and treatment of common illnesses for their children throughout the first five years of their lives.
This programme is a five-decade-old tradition of US support to Pakistan towards improving health care. In the 1950s, the US helped Pakistan set up Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), while in the 1960s, the US helped introduce the oral rehydration kits to Pakistan, as well as decreased the number of malaria cases from seven million to less than 10,000. In the past three years, US has helped Pakistan build two hospitals -one at JPMC and another in Bagh, while the construction for a third state-of-the-art medical centre in Jacobabad is underway.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 29th, 2013.