Balochistan Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch said on Saturday that both school enrolment and maternal mortality figures in the province were highly inadequate and embarrassingly low.
More than 1.8 million children are out of school in Balochistan while maternal mortality rate is the highest among the four provinces.
Dr Malik was addressing the National Women Conference organised by the ruling National Party’s Women Wing in Quetta. Women leaders and workers of the party from across Balochistan attended the conference.
“There are different statistics regarding the children who do not go to school in Balochistan. It is the responsibility of the National Party (NP) workers to join hands with the government to improve the enrolment,” he said.
The CM announced that his government would soon launch a campaign to increase the enrolment of children in schools.
The government will launch a “School Bharo Campaign” during the month of March 2015. “It is the responsibility of every member of the party to make sure that teachers in their respective districts attend schools, “if not, just tell me,” he said adding, “There will be zero tolerance towards phantom teachers and doctors.”
The Balochistan government has already launched Education Management and Information System (EMIS) website. EMIS is designed to contain data about all educational institutes in Balochistan, the chief minister said.
The main benefit of EMIS website is that it will help in identifying ghost schools and absent teachers. “The website is effectively monitoring the situation in Quetta while it will soon be extended to across the province,” he said.
The top executive of the province said it was deplorable that so many women die during child birth and even a greater number of children die from preventable diseases.
“The maternal mortality rate is higher and alarming in Balochistan. This is quite embarrassing for us in the world,” he said. “The children are dying from preventable diseases like measles. We have a thousand vaccinators. We can save the lives of children, if all the vaccinators perform their duties,” he said.
According to the provincial health department, as many as 785 out of 100,000 mothers lose their lives during pregnancy in Balochistan as compared with 272 in the rest of the country.
He lauded the efforts of women workers of the party. “The women in our party have played a more important role than men during the election campaign,” the NP chief said.
Women leaders from Sohbatpur, Nasirabad, Jaffarabad and Sibi districts in their speech criticised the health department for being ignorant to mother and child health issues.
At least 80 per cent people in Nasirabad and Sibi division are suffering from hepatitis B and C. Women are dying during the pregnancy, they said.
Women activists said that teachers have been drawing salaries without attending classes in Naushki, Chagai and Panjgur. “Female doctors are not available at Gynaecology Wards of the district headquarter hospitals of in Naushki, Chagai and Panjgur. Women in these areas are facing immense trouble and hardship,” said activist Shazia Noor.
Women activists submitted reports of 28 districts of Balochistan regarding the party performance and problems. Around 400 women attended the conference.
Women leaders of the party demanded equal status in decision making set-up of the National Party.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 11th, 2015.