Maternal, newborn health: ‘Speakers call for research-based action

Calls for action to support sustainable development goals beyond 2015.

Our Correspondent January 29, 2015
Ahsan Iqbal addressing at the seminar. PHOTO: NNI

ISLAMABAD: Speakers at a two-day seminar stressed on the role of research-based evidence to action beyond 2015 in order to build better policies and practices related to maternal and newborn health in Pakistan.

The chief guest, Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal, blamed the failure in social sector development on not owning the problems. “We failed to achieve millennium development goals because we thought it to be global obligation, but now we are fulfilling our international commitment as a national agenda,” he added.

He and other experts were talking at research and advocacy conference at a local hotel. Research and Advocacy Fund for Maternal and Newborn Health (RAF) organised the conference to share their findings from more than six years of projects in Pakistan.

The RAF is managed by a consortium led by the British Council with its partners Impact at the University of Aberdeen, Social Development Direct and RIZ Consulting.

The conference called for action to support sustainable development goals beyond 2015.

Iqbal reiterated that the government was committed to investing more in health and education sector despite the fact that both subjects have been devolved to provinces. He added political instability did not let the country fully germinate policies.

Speakers from the government and development sector of Pakistan emphasised the importance of research-based evidence to improve policies and practices related to maternal and newborn health in the country. Regional and international participants also shared findings from their own country’s contexts and how Pakistan can benefit from their experiences.

British Council Regional Business Director John Payne, DFID Pakistan Deputy Head of Office Judith Herbertson,  Australian Foreign Affairs Dept Head of Aid Peter Coventry, Guttmacher Institute Vice President for Research Dr Susheela Singh, The Hospital for Sick Children Global Child Health Robert Harding Inaugural Chair Dr Zulfiqar Bhutta, and RAF Programme Manager Sarah Hall also addressed the audience.

Deputy Head of office, Judith Herbertson, said, “It was to tackle some of the unacceptable health figures pertaining to women and children health that the RAF was set up. The RAF is very much seen at the outset to improve maternal and new born health and using advocacy and research to push for policy change.”

Peter Coventry, Australia Aid head, reaffirmed the agency’s commitment to Pakistan and said, “The Australian Government is strongly committed to improving maternal, neo-natal and child health in Pakistan. We firmly believe that improving policy and enabling environment is the key to encourage sustainable change. I would like to take this opportunity to commend the effort of RAF team and encourage the Government, development partners and civil society to make use of the rich evidence made available by this excellent endeavour.”

Published in The Express Tribune, January 30th, 2015.

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