APP23-101220 ISLAMABAD: December 10 - President Dr. Arif Alvi addressing a webinar on Pakistan Maternal Mortality Survey. APP

ISLAMABAD, Dec 10 (APP):President Dr Arif Alvi Thursday said that though Pakistan had brought down maternal mortality rate to 186 per 1000 births, it was a must to reduce it further to 70 to meet Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

“I think we must achieve this Sustainable Development Goal of 70 by the year 2030. We believe very strongly that if poverty in Pakistan has to be reduced, it is important that health situation of populace has also to be improved,” the president said addressing a webinar on Pakistan Maternal Mortality Survey.

The results of the Pakistan Maternal Mortality Survey (PMMS) were officially released during the national dissemination event.

According to the survey, the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) is 186 deaths per 100,000 live births for the three-year period before the survey.

Overall, 12 percent of deaths among ever-married women between the ages of 15-49 in the past three years are due to maternal causes.

The majority (96 percent) of maternal deaths were direct maternal deaths, while four percent of deaths were indirect maternal deaths.

The president said as per demographic survey of 2006-7, the country had 276 maternal mortality rate per 1000 births.

He said as the prime minister had long been working in health sector since establishment of Shaukat Khanum Hospital, availability of better healthcare for people always remained his main concern.

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Even, he said in his maiden speech after becoming prime minister, Imran Khan raised the issue of children’s stunted growth which could be better addressed through two-year breastfeeding and gap between pregnancies.

He said considering the growing size of country’s population, it was essential to take care of children’s nutrition and maternal health.

The president said through Quran, Allah had also instructed for at least 24-months of breastfeeding which would address both the issues of stunted growth and maternal health.

He said he had also asked the companies manufacturing formula milk to market their products in a way to make it clear that it was never an alternate to the mother feed.

The president, who also chaired a task force on population, repeatedly called for gap between pregnancies for recovery of mother’s health and avert malnutrition in the children.

He also mentioned his frequent interaction with religious scholars to promote breastfeeding and guide the people that gap between pregnancies was essential to protect mothers from various health complications.

The president believed that 90 percent of the oral and dental diseases were preventable, therefor the ore focus should be on prevention which could also avert burden on health system.

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The president said that the information technology systems geared up during the COVID-19 pandemic would help a long away to uplift the health sector in future.

The president said the efficiency achieved in IT sector by Pakistan during the pandemic could otherwise have taken 10 years to reach the point.

He said the IT would help promote the mechanisms like telehealth system and improve communication between the people and government particularly for awareness on prevention of disease through the measures like frequent hand wash.

Pervaiz Ahmed Junejo, Executive Director, National Institute of Population Studies said the PMMS survey provided the government and development partners data for program managers and policymakers to make evidence-based decisions to improve maternal health care nationwide.

Dr. Faisal Sultan, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister and Dr. Nausheen Hamid, Parliamentary Secretary for Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination emphasized the need for evidence-based data for improving quality and accessibility of health services available in the country.

Representatives of the United Nations Population Fund, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, US Aid, ICF and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which provided technical and financial support for the research study, reiterated support for maternal health initiatives in Pakistan.