Federal health authorities and the anti-poverty scheme named after former prime minister Benazir Bhutto have joined forces to introduce conditional cash transfers (CCT) for maternal and child health improvement.
An estimated five million Pakistani families will benefit from the project – which is still in its planning stage.
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Dr Baseer Achakzai, director Nutrition wing Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination (NHSRC) said the initiative by the health ministry and Benazir Income Support Programme would improve mother and child health.
Talking to The Express Tribune, he said that the stunting rate of children in Pakistan currently stands at 44 per cent. Every year 14,000 women die from child birth complications in the country which is shocking.
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Dr Achakzai said that woman of five million families of child bearing age, pregnant and lactating mothers will be targeted. The best possible options will be to improve their diet and health so that well -nourished mothers can give birth to healthy children.
“It is a known fact that a malnourished mother gives birth to a malnourished baby and in most cases they both die,” he said.
BISP chairman Marvi Memon said the idea behind this project was to reach the poorest of the poor across the country. The prime goal is to improve health of a mother and a child and to provide them best possible healthcare initiatives. The nutrition status currently is below satisfactory level, she said.
Sharing the details of the project, Memon said health has become a provincial subject after the 18th Amendment. Therefore, all the provincial governments have been consulted. They have been invited to share the best possible options of reaching and facilitating the poorest of the poor in their region.
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Memon said they have few options: One option was to hand out cash payments, while the second was to give food baskets containing items rich in essential micronutrients needed by women of child bearing age, pregnant or lactating.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 14th, 2015.
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