May 07, 2010

Balochistan: One Woman Dies Every 30 Minutes In Pakistan

Active ImageBalochistan has an alarmingly high Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) due to poor social and health services for mothers and their children.



Below is an article published by The International News:

Despite signing several international commitments regarding the health and human rights of women and girls, Pakistan has an alarmingly high Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR), as one Pakistani woman loses life every 30 minutes due to reproductive health complications.

These statistics were shared at a workshop on Millennium Development Goal 5 (MDG 5) and UN Human Rights Council’s resolution on preventable maternal mortality, organised by World Population Foundation (WPF) on Thursday [6 May 2010].

The speakers said that every year, more than one million children are left motherless and vulnerable because of maternal deaths. “Children who have lost their mothers are up to 10 times more likely to die prematurely than those who have not,” they pointed out.

Assistant Programme Officer Sidra Ashraf said Balochistan has the highest maternal mortality rate that is followed by Sindh, Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa and Punjab respectively. She said one third of these deaths occur due to postpartum haemorrhage - a condition that can be prevented with the provision of basic healthcare services.

Programme Manager Policy Advocacy Nazoora Ali said Pakistan is a signatory to the Millennium Declaration and is committed to achieve the MDGs. “The country’s target for MDG 5 (improved maternal health) is to reduce the MMR to less than 140 by the year 2015 but the present rate in Balochistan is 856, followed by Sindh (333),” she said.

She said factors resulting in maternal deaths include women’s poor health before pregnancy, and inadequate, inaccessible or unaffordable healthcare and poor hygiene and care during childbirth. “Socio-economic and cultural realities such as literacy, poverty, women’s unequal access to recourses and their lack of decision making power in families and societies contribute to the challenges faced by women.”

Last year, she said, Pakistan endorsed the ‘Preventable Maternal Mortality and Morbidity and Human Rights Resolution’ in the UN Human Rights Council, recognising maternal mortality as a human rights issue. “By placing women’s maternal health within a human rights framework, it gives the advocates a powerful tool for demanding the government’s accountability,” she mentioned.

Nazoora appreciated the efforts of Minister for Population Welfare Firdous Ashiq Awan and Advisor to Prime Minister on Social Welfare Shehnaz Wazir Ali for the interest they took in convincing the Foreign Office to sign the resolution. “Soon the resolution recognising maternal mortality as a human rights issue will be passed from the Balochistan Assembly,” she said.

She said to spread the message of safe motherhood, WPF has launched an awareness campaign through footprint messages on the pavements of public parks around the country. “The messages will be printed on pavements along with footprints to link the message with the religious concept that heaven is under mother’s feet,” she added. Urging the media to raise the issue as a human rights subject, she said awareness is another preventive tool that could play an important role in lowering the MMR in the country.