KARACHI: Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Wednesday said that neonatal mortality rate had decreased by more than 30 per cent, infant mortality rate dropped by 19 per cent and under-five mortality rate by 17 per cent between 2013-18 in Sindh.

“This speaks volumes for the provincial government’s pragmatic and result-oriented healthcare policies, therefore we are launching the Mother & Child Support Programme to register pregnant mothers at health facilities close to their homes, and provide them cash support for each scheduled visit including institutional delivery,” he said at the inauguration ceremony of the Mother and Child Support Programme launched by the Social Protection Strategy Unit at CM House.

Bilawal said that according to demographic and health survey conducted by USAID and UKAID for 2013-18 neonatal mortality had decreased by 19 per cent in Punjab, increased by two per cent in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and decreased by 30 per cent in Sindh. “Similarly, the infant mortality rate decreased by 17 per cent in Punjab and 19 per cent in Sindh and nine per cent in KPK,” he said.

The chief minister said that the WHO-recommended services, such as ante-natal check-ups, safe delivery, postnatal care, child growth monitoring and immunisation were available free of cost at public health facilities throughout the province, which had resulted in improvement in key indicators such as institutional deliveries.

“This is the first programme which forms part of a comprehensive provincial social protection strategy being rolled out by the Sindh government in coming months,” he announced.

He said the programme registered pregnant mothers at health facilities close to their homes and provides them with cash support for each scheduled visit, including institutional delivery. “The women are given Rs1,000 at each scheduled antenatal, postnatal and child healthcare visits, Rs4,000 for institutional or healthcare facility-based delivery and Rs2,000 for birth registration with NADRA,” he said.

He said that as a pilot intervention, the programme had been launched in two union councils each in Tharparkar and Umerkot districts. “It will be subsequently extended to all districts in next three months and further expanded to cover the entire province within next two years,” he said.

Published in Dawn, November 25th, 2021

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