KARACHI: Health is one of the most under-reported sectors in Pakistan with the result that many issues involving life and death of children and mothers neither attract government attention nor find a preferred place on media’s priority list, a workshop on reporting was told on Monday.
The two-day media workshop organised by Mishal, an advocacy concern mainly focusing on healthcare issues for several international health organisations, began with the organisers underlining the need to train journalists to highlight the issue of mother and child mortality.
“The sole purpose of such seminars is to train journalists on the issues pertaining to healthcare in Pakistan and encourage them to highlight the plight of our children and women in particular who often find little attention from the people at the helm,” said journalist Mubashir Zaidi who moderated the programme.
Experts and trainers apprised participants in the workshop that Pakistan had the highest ratio of first day deaths and stillbirths — much higher than many poorest African nations and the war-torn countries such as Somalia and Afghanistan — in the world at 40.7 per 1,000 births. The same ratio for Nigeria is 32.7, followed by Sierra Leone (30.8), Somalia (29.7), Guinea-Bissau (29.4) and Afghanistan (29).
“Half of these deaths can be prevented if the children are breastfed in the first hour of their birth. Less than half of Pakistani women have a skilled health worker present at birth,” said Iqbal Detho of the Save the Children.
He said attempts to restrict the high child mortality rate had been dogged by issues such as delays in salary disbursements, unavailability of medicines, dysfunctional equipment and an unaccommodating referral system.