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KARACHI: USAID to train 2,000 midwives

May 24, 2006

KARACHI, May 23: The government is soon going to substitute the existent Lady Health Workers Programme with well trained community midwives to strengthen the Mothers and Child Health Care Programme in the province’s rural areas.

The Sindh Health Secretary, Prof Naushad Shaikh, said this on Tuesday at the inaugural ceremony of the USAID funded ‘Master Training of Trainers of Midwives’.

The training is being jointly organized by the Federal Health Ministry and the Pakistan Initiative for Mothers and Newborns (PAIMAN) in coordination with the Aga Khan Health Services. The training will continue till June 17.

He said the government was fully conscious to the lacunae in the rural sector healthcare systems, and was in the process of ensuring the presence of adequately trained community based health care workers in remote areas.

“This is particularly relevant in context to the Sindh province where 50 per cent of basic health units are not functional,” he said.

The health secretary further maintained that in the absence of qualified gynecologists in rural areas, community based midwives were being made available to combat the high incidence of maternal/infant mortality and morbidity rates.

Reiterating that the government was particularly focusing on improving health standards among women and children, he said there was a need to educate the masses and also modify their attitudes.

With regard to the recent outbreak of gastroenteritis in Hyderabad, that killed five persons and affected 2,500, he said there was also an urgency to bring together different departments such as education, water and sanitation, health.

People have to be educated about the importance of hygiene, and to make proper use of available facilities such as education family planning and health.

They should also be provided with their basic rights of clean water and proper sanitation.

Dr Nabila Ali of PAIMAN in her presentation said that 80 per cent of deliveries being handled by traditional birth attendants were complimented by the fact that there were considerable high incidence rates of maternal mortality and morbidity in the country.

To address the situation on strong grounds, 2,000 master trainers were being trained during a five year programme, she said.

PAIMAN has already started the programme in 10 districts of the Punjab, two each in Sindh and Balochistan, and a few in the NWFP.

Emphasis is on hands-on training with provision for regular assessment and follow-ups, she said.

Ms Mary Scurry, CTO-PAIMAN and Deputy Director, USAID, on the occasion said that adequate funding had been provided under the USAID programme for Pakistan, comprising tax money of the US citizens, for the five-year training programme for community midwives (CMWs).

She said the Sukkur and Dadu districts in Sindh, and Jaffarabad and Lasbella in Balochistan, were being covered under the community-based midwifery training.

She said that similar programmes had also been initiated in selected districts of the Punjab and the NWFP.

The speaker, herself a qualified nurse, observed that the most crucial aspect of the training would be hands-on experience and improved capacities of the trained CMWs to adopt proper approaches and make right decisions at the right time, benefiting the mother and child.

“This has to be strongly and efficiently inculcated among the trainees to help them emerge as reliable support for the community on sustainable basis.”

She also mentioned that under the USAID, programmes on family planning, TB eradication, HIV/Aids prevention and treatment were also being funded besides giving short- and medium-term loans for women empowerment schemes along with scholarships for Pakistani students in Pakistani as well as American universities.—APP