Study reveals critical gaps in maternal health services for women of reproductive age

Zubair Qureshi

An in-depth analysis of Pakistan Maternal Mortality Survey (PMMS) 2019 produced jointly by the Population Council, National Committee on Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health, National Institute of Population Studies found critical gaps in maternal health services for women of reproductive age in Pakistan.

The study analysis that had technical and financial support of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) examines the predictors of maternal mortality in Pakistan and unpacks causes of maternal deaths while also identifying the societal and medical factors that contribute to the tragic loss of maternal lives.

In her opening remarks, Country Director Population Council, Dr. Zeba Sathar stressed the need for quality data and more periodic and granular information providing district level situation as far as maternal mortality is concerned.

Provision of quality family planning services can reduce repeated and multiple pregnancies as the analysis showed that non-practicing of family planning was a big factor contributing to maternal deaths.

The analytical framework for in-depth analysis of PMMS 2019 used both quantitative and qualitative approaches to investigate levels and causes of maternal mortality across Pakistan which yielded important policy and programmatic implications.

In his remarks, Dr Bakhtior Kadirov, Deputy Country Representative, UNFPA said “Maternal morality of Pakistan and its provinces could be compared to some African countries.

Although Pakistan made significant improvement in Antenatal care and delivery in facilities, but number of maternal mortalities did not reduce accordingly.

Substantial disparities of maternal mortality ratio among provinces, regions and rural areas call for customized interventions and improvement to access of family planning services and information could reduce number of maternal mortalities in Pakistan.”

People must be made aware of the danger sign of pregnancy better with preparedness and finding out before hand and assessing appropriate facilities with comprehensive emergency obstetric care.

Proper referral system be introduced linking community to the facilities to avoid wastage of time shuffling between facilities

Dr. Azra Fazal Pechuhu, Minister for Health and Population Welfare Sindh attended the launch ceremony of the Report titled “Explaining Maternal Mortality in Pakistan: In-depth Analysis of Pakistan Maternal Mortality Survey, 2019” and reiterated Sindh government’s commitment to improving health outcomes as population welfare.

She said this study has been released at a very appropriate time and provides strong research-based evidence to strengthen interventions for mother and child healthcare and contraceptive care.

This study will be helpful in policymaking, designing new MNCH initiatives to prevent maternal deaths in Pakistan.

She stressed for concerted efforts and investments to meet the public health and human rights imperative of saving maternal lives. She said that strong accountability at the facility level is needed as all maternal deaths must be avoided.

Earlier, authors Dr. Ahsan Iqbal and Dr. Azra Ahsan shared key findings of the in-depth analysis.

The analysis shows women belonging to younger and higher age groups, with no education and first-time mothers are at a significantly higher risk of maternal mortality in Pakistan.


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