THIS is with reference to the report ‘Needless deaths’ (Feb 22). The maternal mortality rate in Pakistan, as per the Maternal and Child Health survey of 2019, has decreased to 186 deaths per 100,000 live births. The maternal mortality ratio in Pakistan has decreased from 276 deaths per 100,000 live births, as per the Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey of 2006-7, to 186, according to the latest survey.

Comparing the death rate from maternal causes with the current Covid-19 pandemic, it seems both are preventable and avoidable. Both require social acceptance, behavioural change, community awareness, mobilisation and priority status.

Many efforts are made at the level of public and private sectors, and donor support is also available, but it is still not enough. Blaming the government is not acceptable anymore. Community mobilisation and understanding of the grave situation with regard to both the issues are very difficult as mindset and social taboos about both are dominant and deep-rooted.

Recent reports of reluctance and low turnout of healthcare frontline workers for vaccination of Covid-19 was due to the fear of side effects.

The same problem is seen with many other preventive measures related to medical problems, like social refusal of vaccinations and family planning.

This also shows that the education level has little value as these reluctances are observed in people with various social and academic backgrounds. Strong individual efforts, media support and counselling at every level are needed. We all have to contribute towards better healthcare in order to become a healthy nation.

Dr Shahnaz Shallwani
Karachi

Published in Dawn, March 4th, 2021

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