Pakistan is among the worst places in the world to be a mother in. Leading credence to this statement is the country’s standing in a study drawn up by Save the Children that ranks countries according to mother and child mortality rates. The report titled “State of the World’s Mothers” puts Pakistan at 149 among 179 countries for child and mother mortality, sliding down two places from its 147 rank last year. Pakistan has not only performed poorly with respect to global rankings, but also when compared with neighbouring countries. Except for Afghanistan, all countries in the region have better health indicators than Pakistan.
The report highlights the impact of economic inequality on health, stating that an increasing number of mother and child deaths are in urban slums. It further states that poor children in rural areas are twice as likely to die as the rich urban children in Pakistan. Health disparities are, therefore, worse for less developed parts of the country. For instance, Pakistan sustained a high Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) of 276 per 100,000 live births, but in Balochistan the MMR is much higher at 700. The number of deaths for children under five stands at 85.5 for every 1,000 children in the country, while one in every 170 women in Pakistan has the lifetime risk of maternal death. These statistics are alarming. Access to basic healthcare remains a long-standing problem with women often getting only unspecialised care at the time of delivery. At the same time, there remains little awareness on the health impacts of early marriage and the issue of population control seems to have been forgotten. Pakistan needs to urgently work on these areas as well as on provision of basic facilities such as access to safe drinking water and medication to reduce the numbers of these very avoidable deaths. At present, economic inequality is denying thousands of women and children the right to life. It’s time we focused our efforts on saving these lives.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 12th, 2015.
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