Sir: The Punjab Assembly passed a bill on March 20, 2014 called, ‘The Punjab Reproductive, Maternal, Neo-natal and Child Health Authority Bill 2014’, which gives the status of permanent government employees to Lady Health Workers (LHWs). Now 48,000 LHWs and around 1,947 supervisory staff will be awarded regular posts. The regularisation of these healthcare providers will have a great impact on motivating and enhancing their functions. Pakistan is among the five countries with the highest child mortality rate: 86 per 1,000 under-five mortality and 42 per 1000 newborn mortality, as of 2012. The lives of most of these babies could have been saved if they had access to some basic healthcare services.
Though the LHW program is an excellent initiative in primary healthcare, the current scenario of maternal and child health indicates that the manner of its implementation leaves much to be desired. Lack of skill and health education among workers, insufficient equipment, low remuneration are some common obstacles facing them, which need to be addressed and call for specific attention by our leaders, policy makers and implementers. The responsibility of the government does not end by just passing a bill, rather it is the first step towards providing essential and appropriate healthcare to all. It is now compulsory for all provincial and federal government to invest in a strong health workforce that is fit to prevent and treat the causes of maternal, newborn and child mortality.