PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has launched a programme to cut down deaths of would-be mothers and newborns due to delivery-related complications by strengthening local health facilities.

“Maternal deaths account for 27 per cent of mortality among women of reproductive age in the province,” said Dr Arshad Ahmed Khan, the director-general of health services (DGHS), at the launch of Newborn Survival Strategy on Tuesday.

He said that the programme was meant to reinforce services and scale up awareness regarding avoidable illnesses as well as ensure measures to lessen number of mortalities from childbirth, according to press release.

Dr Arshad said that in 2012, the maternal mortality ratio improved and was estimated at 206 per 100,000 births, neonatal mortality rate of 41 per 1,000 live births, the infant mortality ratio was 58 per 1,000 births and under five mortality ratio was 70 per 1000 births.

Newborn Survival Strategy is meant to reinforce services and scale up awareness regarding avoidable illnesses

He said that the department was keen to address the issues of newborn deaths particularly in far off districts. “We will be responsible for the overall technical leadership guidance and advice on the implementation and monitoring of the strategic plan,” he added.

According to reports, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is faced with high incidence of preventable deaths among mothers, infants and young children. The ratio translates into an annual death toll of nearly 1,700 women and 47,400 infants, primarily due to conditions that could easily be prevented with basic healthcare.

Maternal and child morbidity accounts for the highest disease burden in the province. At present in the province, only 60.5 per cent women received antenatal care from a skilled provider, 40.5 per cent delivered in a health facility, 48.3 per cent were assisted in delivery by a skilled provider and only 39.3 per cent received services.

Other speakers said the strategy would help health department to mobilise resources and advocate for reduction of maternal, newborn and child deaths.

Special Health Secretary Dr Syed Farooq Jamil said on the occasion that population increased from 17.7 million in 1998 to 30.52 million in 2017 of which 77 percent lived in urban areas.

He said that the plan would be used as a measure to improve the quality of care and standardisation of healthcare facilities to ensure integration and strengthening of services with the existing maternal, newborn and child health services.

The health secretary said the goal of the plan was to reduce neonatal mortality and stillbirths to less than 10 deaths per 1,000 live births and increase coverage of births attended by skilled attendants from 48.3 per cent to 70 per cent by 2030.

Published in Dawn, November 20th, 2019

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