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Mother, child health initiative extended to all districts

By Ashfaq Yusufzai 2016-06-23
PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has extended the Chief Minister Special Initiative for Mother and Child Health to all districts of the province to cut down maternal and neonatal deaths from pregnancy-related complications.

Under this programme, each woman, who gets checked regularly at the government-run health facilities from conception to delivery and post-delivery, will receive Rs2,700 in six instalments. The programme is one of the four chief minister`s initiatives, which has been extended to all districts of the province while the other three initiatives have not got extension.

Officials said that replication of the programme was due to the response it received during the last one year. It offers free screening, tests and ultrasound and free medicines besides cash money.

The government allocated Rs300 million for the programme in 2014 to address the delays that harmed health of pregnant women as well as their newborn babies, officials said. They added members of poor families often remained undecided if they should rush the women to hospital or notwhich caused delay in her treatment.

However, a favourable decision has been taken to shift the woman to the hospitals when her condition deteriorates.

`The women are registered under this initiative at the hospitals and are told about the next visit, therefore, there are little chances of delays,` said officials.

The programme also encourages families to arrange for transport of the pregnant women using the cash award to be given by government at the hospitals.

Dr Hidayatullah Marwat, provincial monitoring and evaluation officer at the mother and child health programme, told Dawn that it was an innovative approach to enable the people to go to the hospitals and undergoinvestigations for safe delivery and safety of mother and child.

The incentive included Rs1,200 for four antenatal visits, Rs1,000 for delivery of baby and Rs500 for postnatal follow-ups, he said.

Dr Marwat said that the amount was transferred to the beneficiaries via mobile phone numbers and the department didn`t retain any cash. It was the responsibility of the companies concerned to send the amount on the number submitted by the clients, he said.

The programme is in place in all basic health units, civil hospitals and tehsil and district headquarters hospitals. `Women can get the incentives through checkups by doctors, lady health visitors, community midwives and skilled birth attendants,` he said.Dr Marwat said there was no third party evaluation as yet but indicators with regard to mother and child health improved in most of the 10 districts where programme started in 2014.

`More than 90,000 women have benefited of the programme regardless of their economic status,` he said.

The government has deployed 1,400 community midwives, two per union council, especially in under-utilised health facilities to facilitate more population. The women, who were examined by community midwives and government-authorised skilled birth attendants in the neighbourhoods stand eligible for the incentives.

`There is a lot of focus on awareness about the programme. Enhanced awareness leads to fulfillment of objectives,` said Dr Marwat.He said that people should know about the incentives so that they could avail the opportunity and ensure better health of mother and babies in the province.

The World Health Organisation says that an estimated 206 women died in 100,000 live births in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa against 276 in 2006-7 and indications are there it would show further decrease in view of the programme, which happens to be first of its kind by any province.

The programme is consonance with the UN`s Social Development Goals, aiming to end preventable deaths of newborns and children under five years of age, neonatal mortality to 12 per 1,000 live births and under-five mortality to 25 per 1,000 live births by the year 2030.