Study shows poor health scenario in NWFP
PESHAWAR: A study conducted by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has found that most of women in Buner and Upper Dir districts of the NWFP are unaware of pregnancy-related complications. The USAID started a project in the NWFP in May 2005 for improving mothercare and neonatal health situation in Buner and Upper Dir districts. Under the project facilities for obstetric and neonatal emergency care at hospitals would be strengthened. In the first phase, a study was conducted to ascertain the magnitude of maternal health scenario. Conducted by the Population Council of Pakistan (PCP), the study showed that only 26 per cent mothers-to-be visited hospitals for antenatal three compulsory checkups in Upper Dir. Only 17 per cent women visited health facilities in Buner.
About 36 per cent women received Tetanus Toxoid injection during pregnancy in Upper Dir and 31 per cent in Buner. Some 36 per cent women used iron tablets during pregnancy in Upper Dir and 31 per cent in Buner. The USAID, which had stopped activities after the Pressler Amendment, allocated $50 million for the project. The study showed that 51 per cent women knew about dangerous signs in pregnancy in Upper Dir and 16 per cent in Buner. It said that 73 per cent women had experienced pregnancy-related complications in Dir and 50 per cent in Buner.
Health facilities in the far-flung districts would be equipped with basic necessities to enable them to provide post and pre-natal care. Dr Tahir Nadeem Khan of the Pakistan Initiative for Mothers and Newborns said that the project, which would be completed over a period of five years, was aimed at strengthening the existing health facilities and filling up vacant posts. “The NWFP government has already announced facilities for health professionals who are ready to perform duties in the far off districts including Buner and Upper Dir,” said Dr Khan.
He said that about 80 per cent births in Pakistan were supervised by unskilled birth attendants due to which 50 per cent newborn babies died before attaining the age of one month and 50 per cent of them died on the very first day of their birth. He said that most people preferred delivery of babies at home because of lack of trust in the existing health facilities coupled with transport problems. He said that training of lady health visitors (LHVs) had been started who would be posted in the two districts.
“We are focusing to strengthen the capacity of workers by imparting training to them and carrying out renovation and repair of labour rooms at the public sector health facilities,” he said. He said the project’s aim was to utilize health facilities through provision of equipment, drugs, stretchers, wheel-chairs and accessories required to prevent mothers and newborn babies from diseases. The project has five strategic objectives, including raising awareness and promoting maternal and neonatal health behaviours, increase community involvement in maternal and child health services and ensuring that these services are delivered through health and ancillary health services.