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16,000 women die every year

KARACHI: President National Committee for Maternal and Neonatal Health (NCMNH) Prof Sadiqua N Jafarey said on Saturday that around 16,000 young women die of pregnancy and childbirth-related complications every year in the country and most of those deaths occur due to excessive blood loss after childbirth.

She was addressing a seminar organised by the NCMNH in collaboration with the Midwifery Association of Pakistan (MAP) and the Association for Mothers & Newborns (AMAN) with the theme of “Reducing Maternal Deaths”, at the Karachi Press Club.

According to her, maternal mortality ratio in Pakistan is 276 per 100,000 live births, which is the highest in South Asia, and after every 30 minutes a woman dies due to pregnancy.

The most common cause of maternal deaths is excessive blood loss after childbirth, while abortion-related complication are among the five major causes of maternal deaths.

Secretary General MAP Mehmooda Afroze said that majority of these maternal deaths could be prevented through proper use of life saving medicines, adding, “Misprostol is a safe and effective drug and it is also recommended for the prevention and treatment of post-abortion complications”.

Gynecologist Dr Sadiah Ahsan Pal also spoke on the occasion.

Birth-spacing supported

Meanwhile, Hafiz Muhammad Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi, Chairman Pakistan Ulema Council, has supported birth-spacing, saying, “It insures health of the mother and the newborn as well as allowing a mother to fully cater to the needs of her existing children|.

“Maternal and newborn health remains an ignored state agenda in Pakistan. The country’s maternal mortality rate is the highest in South Asia where about 12,000 mothers die during childbirth each year,” he said in a statement.

Stressing the importance of birth spacing as a way to prevent maternal and newborn deaths, Hafiz Ashrafi said that the acts of terrorism get more media coverage and national attention, but no value was assigned to the millions of mothers and newborns who lose their lives every year.

“Newborns fare no better and Pakistan has one of the highest neonatal deaths in the region – an estimated 298,000 newborns dying annually. Babies who survive the crucial 40 days after birth often remain in poor health. Many die before their fifth birthday, as Pakistan’s under-5 mortality was 424,377 in 2010,” he added.

“This is no surprise with a country that allocates 0.23 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on health. Reasons, besides financial, that contribute to maternal and newborn deaths include lack of specialised care during delivery, complications of pregnancy and lack of appropriate rest period between pregnancies. Neonatal and under-5 deaths are mostly due to infections, preterm births and birth asphyxia. Poor health indicators are easily avoided. One of the most effective ways of preventing maternal, neonatal and under-5 deaths is family planning and birth spacing.”

Source: The News

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