By ASHFAQ YUSUFZAI
PESHAWAR: The health department has increased coverage of Lady Health Workers by 10 per cent under integrated health project, aimed at improving mother and child health indicators in the province, according to officials.
The project was launched to merge the centre-run programmes into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa health department. It will cost Rs19 billion over a period of two years to expand health facilities and protect women and children from diseases.
The Lady Health Workers, Expanded Programme on Immunisation, Nutrition Programme and Mother and Child Health Programme were integrated to improve immunisation and put brakes on malnourishment among women and newborns.
Dr Fahim says over 2,000 more LHWs appointed in KP
These programmes, devolved to the province after 18 Amendment, will get federal funding till June 2017 after which the province will be responsible for them.
“The LHWs programme, started in 1994 by federal government, has proved a success throughout the country with regard to mother and child health indicators,” Dr Fahim Hussain Khan, project director of the programme in the province, told Dawn.
The Oxford Policy Management had declared it an effective intervention to safeguard women and children from host of diseases.
“The health department has appointed 2,850 more LHWs in addition to 13,200 already working in the province under the federal government to expand the network,” said Dr Fahim. He said that the coverage was increased from 52 per cent to 60 per cent with the appointment of new staff.
“One LHW gets one-year training after matriculation and covers 200 houses or 1,000 population where she checks up health status of the pregnant women, promote and advocate family planning methods and routine immunization,” he said. They visit house to house in the neighbourhood to examine mothers and vaccinate children.
Dr Fahim said that the programme was focused on awareness about dengue haemorrhagic fever, bird flu and malaria. He said that pregnant women were advised to eat fruits and vegetables and check their blood pressure and weight.
The integration of four programmes was also meant to stop duplication of activities. All the programmes performed similar tasks that caused overlapping and waste of resources prior to merger. The main approach was to improve mother and child health in coordination.
Dr Fahim said that except Torghar, the 24 LHWs-covered districts had shown improvement in the shape of availability of community-based services, medicines and consultations.
He said that LHWs were appointed from the community where they worked.
Dr Fahim said that about 20 LHWs were monitored by one Lady Health Supervisor. He said that about three evaluations of the programme by third parties, besides appreciating it, had also pinpointed the gaps that were being plugged to enhance field work.
“Not only curative side, but our programme focuses on preventive aspect of the diseases because several issues can be tackled through awareness. Health education plays significant part to reduce burden of diseases and promote healthy lifestyle through promotion of hygienic eating habits,” said Dr Fahim.