Karachi: Mother & Child Week was celebrated in 11 districts of Sindh including Tharparkar, Umerkot, Badin, Tando Allahyar, Jamshoro, Nawabshah, Larkana, Kambar, Ghotki, Shikarpur and Kashmore from 6th – 11th April, 2009.
Each year Pakistan witnesses preventable deaths of 432,000 children under-five and 20,000 mothers due to causes related to pregnancy and child birth. Among the under-five deaths, two-thirds are in the newborn period (first 28 days of life) and the remaining are largely due to pneumonia (13%) and diarrhoea (11%). Diarrhoea is a seasonal calamity (number of cases start rising in April and peak around July & August each year). About 70,000 children in Pakistan die due to diarrhoea, every year. Most of these precious lives can be saved by simple knowledge about prevention and promotion of some key measures at home and health care seeking practices.
To address the above issues by raising awareness and strengthening the health system to become more responsive, National Programme for Family Planning and Primary Health Care, Department of Health, Government of Sindh launched the Mother & Child Week, from 6th – 11th April, 2009. The partners include Population Welfare Department, National Programmes on EPI, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health; UNICEF and Rural Support Programme Network, SJN. This is one of the key initiatives by Department of Health, this year in 11districts of Sindh with focused awareness and service delivery on Maternal, New born and Child Health Care.
The week will be focused on awareness campaign with purposeful service delivery in 11 districts reaching around 12 million population, 1.8 million children under-five and 0.41 million pregnant women. About 7,000 Lady Health Workers will be involved in the activity together with vaccinators, health care providers and volunteers.
The series of activities during the week includes public awareness activities at village and union council level, supplemented by immunization and deworming for children, tetanus toxoid vaccination for pregnant mothers, refresher trainings for health workers and strengthened public health systems to ensure that Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) and other essential supplies are available and correctly used. Each pregnant woman will also receive counselling on recognition of danger signs among mothers and newborns, the importance of at least four ANC visits, delivery by a skilled birth attendant, post natal care, early initiation of breast feeding, exclusive breast feeding, immunization of the child and optimal birth spacing.
This week will focus on diarrhoea prevention and its management with an intensive awareness raising on best care practices at the household level if a child suffers from diarrhoea. These include the use of ORS, continued breast feeding and knowledge about danger signs of dehydration when a prompt referral to a health facility is required. Simple measures such as treating drinking water and hand washing with soap can prevent diarrhoea and other communicable diseases. Similarly low cost latrines can be built where people lack proper sanitation facilities. Departments of Social Welfare, Education and Local Government are partnering with Department of Health to spread the message of hand washing and proper sanitation practices. Department of Population Welfare is also partnering at district level to spread the messages of maternal and child health through their outlets.
The Mother & Child Week was piloted in 1 district of Sindh (Tando Allahyar) in 2008 with a focus on prevention of diarrhoea in April and prevention and management of Pneumonia in October with excellent results and hence being scaled up now.