KARACHI: An international nonprofit health organisation on Friday said that maternal and infant mortality rate, which was extremely alarming in Sindh five years back, had been “brought down to a large extent”.

The officials said Maternal and Child Health Integrated Programme (MCHIP), conducted from 2013 to 2018, was funded by USAID, and aimed at taking steps for saving maternal, neonatal, and child lives in rural areas across Sindh.

MCHIP had the vision to prevent maternal, newborn and child deaths by providing quality MNCH services across selected districts of Sindh through a total market approach, empowered communities, timely referral of complications to hospitals providing emergency obstetric and newborn care (EmONC), and improved access to family planning (FP) and child health services including immunisation and nutrition.

It aims at leaving behind at least 1,000 MNCH centres or functional units in public and private health facilities that provided a full range of high quality MNCH services through referral and transportation system.

Dr Farid Midhat, country Director Jhpiego Pakistan, accompanied by officials Dr Wajiha Javed and Dr Kamran Baig said unassisted deliveries at homes, excessive bleeding during childbirth, delay in reaching healthcare facilities to prevent blood loss, and unavailability of trained CMWs and LHWs during childbirth and infections were some of the major reasons behind high maternal mortality in Sindh, which were tackled under their project and now the situation in Sindh had improved.

Sindh was facing high incidence of maternal and infant mortality, followed by Balochistan, in 2013 when around 311 in every 100,000 live births due to childbirth related complications.

But, officials said, due to sustained efforts by Jhpiego in collaboration with USAID and the Sindh government, maternal and infant mortality rates have been brought down to a large extent.

Jhpiego is an international health organisation affiliated with John Hopkins University.

The media was told overall maternal mortality rate in Pakistan in 2013 was 276 death per 100,000 live births including 311 women deaths in Sindh but due to sustained efforts by the public and private sector organisations including Jhpeigo, it was estimated that infant mortality rate had been brought down to 140 deaths per 100,000 live births.

They said maternal and infant mortality were major issues for Pakistan for many decades and in that regard, Pakistan was far behind than other neighbouring and South Asian countries including India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

The media was informed that maternal mortality in Balochistan was 765 in 2013 as per an international survey, the highest in four provinces of Pakistan, followed by 311 in Sindh, 272 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 227 in Punjab while overall maternal mortality rate was 276, which was highly alarming for the whole world. However, Dr Midhat said with dedicated efforts and interventions by those international organisations, maternal mortality had brought down to such a large extent in Sindh during last five years.

He said between 2013 to 2017, his organisation improved healthcare facilities at 1,100 hospitals in 15 underdeveloped districts of Sindh, trained around 1,100 lady health workers (LHWs) and community midwives (CMWs), improved transportation facilities to shift pregnant women to healthcare facilities without delays and introduced family planning services which resulted in spacing births and saving lives of women during childbirth.

According to him, unassisted deliveries at homes, excessive bleeding during childbirth, delay in reaching healthcare facilities to prevent blood loss, unavailability of trained CMWs and LHWs during childbirth, and infections were some of the major reasons behind high maternal mortality in Sindh, which were tackled under their project and “now situation in Sindh is better than Punjab”.

Published in Dawn, January 27th, 2018

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