Dr Farhat Abbas
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals adopted by world leaders in September 2015 set out a vision for a world free of poverty, hunger, disease and want. SDG 3, ‘Good Health and Well-Being,’ calls on countries to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. We need to understand that healthy mothers are important for healthy genera-tions and nations as whole.
An important question here is how focused policies we are adopting to achieve health related targets in Pakistan. According to UNICEF’s latest report Levels and Trends in Child Mortality, globally the mortality rate of children under the age of five has dropped from 93 deaths per 1000 live births to 41 deaths in the last two decades, but situation in Paki-stan is worst, almost 81 out of 1000 children lose the battle of life before reaching the age of five. Pakistani newborns’ dismal health condition and high mortality rate dreadfully put the country among the list of most backward countries of the world. Here we need to understand the causes, only then we can better opt for the solutions. There are so many causes that include poor hygiene, preterm birth complications, acute respiratory infections, intrapartum-related complications, congenital anomalies and diarrhoea.
Ending preventable child deaths can be achieved by providing immediate and exclusive breastfeeding, improving access to skilled health professionals for antenatal, birth, and postnatal care, improving ac-cess to nutrition and micronutrients, promoting knowledge of danger signs among family members, improving access to water, sanitation, and hygiene and providing immunizations.
In most of the cases, it has been observed that low level of nutrition and micronutrients are the main cause of abnormalities. We do not focus on nutri-tional needs of a mother during pregnancy and a lack of awareness and knowledge regarding micro-nutrients among health workers and family mem-bers also lead the serious complications.
Malnutrition is not only limited to children but is also rampant among women of reproductive age suffering from anemia, usually caused by iron defi-ciency. Maternal malnutrition not only leads to in-creased threat of mortality among women but also contributes to the risk of growth faltering and stunt-ing in children. Pregnant women should take iron tablets for at least 90 days during pregnancy to pre-vent anemia and other complications.
In today’s life style, where young generation is more inclined towards fast food and cola drinks, a strong nutritional plan need to be devised for mothers with regular intervals. To achieve the SDG number 3 regarding health and well being, policy makers need to focus on food security also. Natural food produc-tion need to be promoted at kitchen level. Compre-hensive efforts required to ensure that every indi-vidual of the society enjoy the right to adequate, safe and healthy natural food while ensuring a sus-tainable and resilient approach towards the health facilities.
Malnutrition with its main constituents of micronu-trient deficiencies continues to be a major health issue around the globe especially in developing countries. It is one of the most peril risk factors for poor health and untimely deaths of millions of ef-fected pregnant ladies and children. —Writer is Principal Institute of Health Manage-ment and former Additional Medical Superinten-dent of Benazir Bhutto Hospital