MATERNAL MALNUTRITION – UNDERLYING FACTOR BEHIND MATERNAL AND CHILD MORTALITY IN PAKISTAN
March 1, 2016By Aftab Hamid, Communication Officer, White Ribbon Alliance Pakistan
Between 30 November – 2 December 2015, White Ribbon Alliance Pakistan, in collaboration with Health Services Academy (HSA) and the Society of Obstetricians & Gynecologists of Pakistan (SOGP), organized a consultation in Health Service Academy in Islamabad to identify the priority Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) issues and solution to inform a 3-year advocacy strategy for safe motherhood in Pakistan. The workshop was conducted under Melinda Gates Foundation grant to WRAP.
The workshop engaged the participation of mid-level managers, decision makers, senior pediatricians and obstetricians, media and implementers from all over Pakistan. Present among participants were Provincial Presidents of SOGP, deputy programme managers of Provincial MNCH Programmes, Representatives of Provincial Health Department, Medical Universities, Nursing Schools, National & International NGOs, UNICEF, members of community based Organisations and media. Dr. Muhammad Safi, Director Programmes, Ministry of National Health Services Regulation & Coordination chaired the closing session. A large number of issues were identified and considered to be negatively affecting the maternal and newborn health in Pakistan. When it came to focusing priority are the consensus existed around maternal malnutrition among women of childbearing age as one of the core issue impacting both maternal and newborn health.
The participants deliberated upon the solutions to address the issues such as need for the Government of Pakistan to take urgent and effective steps and ensure that women of child bearing age have sufficient iron and folic acid. In addition to this, it was also agreed that the health workers both at facility and community level should be able to promote better nutrition especially when it came to the follow ups and counselling of mothers. The key areas to be addresses that surfaced as priority areas included ensuring the inclusion and availability of iron and folic acid supplements in LHWs/CMWs kits, changes in health care professionals’ curricula for better counselling and focus on nutrition, in service trainings of HCPs to counsel their clients on nutrition and allocation, increase and timely release the funds for undertaking nutrition interventions. Sindh was identified the preferred area of intervention in the wake of poor maternal and child health & nutrition indicator.
Dr. Mohammad Safi, Director Programs at Ministry of National Health Services Regulation and Coordination (MoNHSR&C) in his closing remarks, appreciated the efforts of the organizers and participants. He informed the audience that MNHSR&C is in the process of developing a National Vision 2016-2025 plan for coordinated priority actions. He assured his and Ministry’s full cooperation and support in this regard.
White Ribbon Alliance Pakistan at 6th Annual Public Health Conference
White Ribbon Alliance Pakistan participated in the 6th Annual Public Health Scientific Conference on the theme “Fragile Health System: Issues and Challenges in Pakistan – Harnessing Opportunities” which was conducted by Health Services Academy on 11th and 12th December, 2015 in partnership with UNICEF, World Health Organization, UNFPA, Ipas and EVA-BHN. The Honorable Federal Minister of State Mrs. Saira Afzal Tarar, Secretary Mr. Muhammad Ayub Sheikh and Director General of Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination/Dean Health Services Academy Dr. Assad Hafeez inaugurated the event. The event was heavily attended by nearly 800 participants in the two days of the meeting from Government Departments, major Donor Agencies, re-known International Organizations and National Institutions. The White Ribbon Alliance-Pakistan stall was visited by a number of participants. The Respectful Maternity Care Report attracted most of the visitors. More than 40 people registered themselves for the membership of WRAP. The new members were presented with the White Ribbon badge and a pack of the dissemination material.
Political Economy Analysis – Maternal Malnutrition, Sindh
Following up on the outcomes of the National Consultation on MNCH in Pakistan, the WRAP conducted a political economy analysis (PEA) exercise in Sindh. The PEA has been done for understanding the overall nutrition policy environment in Sindh especially focusing on the various institutional arrangements; mapping the stakeholders in the context of their power and influence on decision makers; horizontal and vertical coordination and over all funding. The exercise spanned over a month with desk review of available literature and in-depth interviews of key informants at the national and provincial level. It included Planning Commission, Ministry of National Health Services Regulation &Coordination, Donors and bilateral, UN and other development partners, academia and Health Policy critics at national level.
At the Provincial level, interviews were conducted with Minister of Health Sindh, Chief Health and Nutrition, Planning and Development, Head of Nutrition Program, MNCH and LHW Program, Director General Health Services, Provincial focal persons for Health and Nutrition in World Food Program, UNICEF, Aga Khan University, Local and international development partners, Nutrition Champions, etc.
The information gathered will help design politically feasible and technically correct interventions for the said project. The exercise has proved to be an entry point for long terms collaboration and networking vital to success of this advocacy project. It helped identify the potential partners to further the advocacy agenda. The report will be made available in coming days for wider circulation and dissemination.