ISLAMABAD: Maternal mortality remains to a persistent issue in Pakistan where one woman loses her life every 40 minutes either due to pregnancy complications or in child-birth.
These findings have been highlighted in a research ‘Using the Community Informant Based (Made-in And Made-for) Methodology for Estimating the Causes, Circumstances and Magnitude of Maternal Deaths in Punjab’ disseminated on Friday with stakeholders and media.
The study, carried-out by the Population Council, paints a gloomy picture of maternal health in the country. It reveals that an estimated 302 maternal deaths per 100,000 take place in the Punjab which is worrisome and alarming.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Dr Fida Ali, reproductive health and family planning coordinator of the Punjab government, said the province has a number of vertical health programmes focusing on mother and child health.
“The problem however,” he highlights, is that “maternal health is not a priority for the government which is why programmes like these do not succeed.
There are 47,000 lady health workers in Punjab but they are overburdened with work due to which they are unable to focus on mother and child health, he explained.
“Currently the government is much focused on eradicating polio from the country and not saving mothers,” he said.
A senior gynaecologist at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) on the condition of anonymity said Pakistan was getting ample funding from international donors for improving maternal and child health but unfortunately the progress rate is very slow.
“Without strengthening primary healthcare services at the grassroots level, the government cannot address these issues,” she said.
Sarah Hall, programme manager of MNH Research and Advocacy Fund said planners in Pakistan require a method that can provide reliable sub-national estimates on maternal mortality rate easily, cost-effectively and with greater regularity, a press release quoted her as saying.
Dr Zeba Sathar, country director of Population Council, said the study has identified specific areas that need strong policy interventions to improve maternal health outcomes.