KARACHI: Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has said that between 2013-18 Neonatal Mortality Rate in Sindh has decreased by more than 30 percent in Sindh, infant mortality rate by 19 percent and under-five mortality rate by 17 percent.
“This speaks louder of the provincial government’s pragmatic and result-oriented healthcare policies; therefore, we are taking other steps to launch the Mother and Child Support Programme to register pregnant mothers at health facilities close to their homes, and provide them with cash support for each scheduled visit including institutional delivery.
This he said on Wednesday while talking to the media just after inaugurating the `Mother and Child Support Programme’ launched by the Social Protection Strategy Unit, CM Secretariat, here at CM House. The programme was attended by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, provincial ministers, advisors, Special Assistants and senior officers of different departments.
Bilawal said that according to Demographic and Health Survey conducted by USAID and UKAID for the years 2013-18 Neonatal Mortality has decreased by 19 percent in Punjab, increased by two percent in KPK and decreased by 30 percent in Sindh. Similarly, the infant mortality rate decreased by 17 percent in Punjab and 19 percent in Sindh and nine percent in KP. Under-5 mortality rate has decreased 19 percent in Punjab, 17 percent in Sindh and nine percent KPK.
Chairman PPP said that it has been the tradition of Pakistan Peoples Party that it has always launched pro-poor policies with the objective steer the people out of poverty. “It was Shaheed Zulfikar Ali who had taken away lands from Jagirdars and gave [them] to the peasants,” he said and added that Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto had launched a lady health worker programme.
Mr Bhutto-Zaradri said that at the initial stage the Lady Health Worker programme was criticized but later it earned international acclamation as was earned by Benazir Income Support Programme. He added that BISP was not only a revolutionary program but under its banner ‘Waseelae Haq and Waseelae Rozgar and Waseelae taleem were launched which had reached 1.3 million people.
Mr Chairman said that the PPP government had also launched interest-free loans and their repayment ratio was recorded at 99 percent. Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah speaking on the occasion said that his government has made significant advances in improving the outreach and quality of primary health services aimed at maternal, new-born and child health. He added that these WHO-recommended services, such as ante-natal check-ups, safe delivery, postnatal care, child growth monitoring and immunization were available free of cost at public health facilities throughout the province. “This has resulted in improvements in key indicators such as institutional deliveries as a proportion of all rural births from 46 per cent to 62 per cent in the last 8 years,” he disclosed.
Shah said that there was still much further to go. “Many women from poor families in remote rural communities are unable to make use of existing public health services due to the loss of income from taking time off work, and travel costs,” he said and added that his government was is launching the Mother and Child Support Programme in order to help women overcome economic barriers to making use of these essential services. “This is the first programme which forms part of a comprehensive provincial social protection strategy being rolled out by the Sindh government in the coming months,” he announced.
The Mother and Child Support Programme registers pregnant mothers at health facilities close to their homes, and provides them with cash support for each scheduled visit, including institutional delivery, Murad Shah said and added “the women are supported by Rs1,000 at each scheduled antenatal, postnatal and child healthcare visits, Rs 4,000 for institutional or healthcare facility-based delivery and Rs2,000 for birth registration with NADRA.” He added the programme aimed to help mothers and children avail WHO-recommended services.
According to the chief minister, through the entire period covering the critical first 1,000 days starting from conception up to the child’s second birthday, each beneficiary will get Rs 20,000 throughout the continuum of care for the first 1,000 days.
The chief minister said that as a pilot intervention, the programme has been launched in two UCs of districts Tharparkar and Umerkot, each. “It is being scaled up in the two Talukas of the intervention districts and will be subsequently scaled up to the entire districts in the next 3 months,” he said and added the initiative would be further expanded to cover the entire province within the next two years.
Shah said: “at its peak, it aims to have over one million active beneficiaries, and targets rapid improvements in the health of mothers and children.” The chief minister announced to make the Social Protection Unit as a full-fledged department which would implement the PPP-election manifesto. Minister Health Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho and CM Special Assistant Haris Gazdar also spoke on the occasion.