Islamabad, May 13, 2015: In a high profile inter-provincial meeting organized today in Islamabad, Mrs. Saira Afzal Tarar, Minister for National Health Services presented the new National Vision for Coordinated Priority Actions to Address Challenges of Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child Health and Nutrition in Pakistan. The meeting was attended by provincial ministers, development partners and renowned public health experts. Speaking at the occasion, Minister Tarar reiterated the commitment of the Government that mother and child safety through proper immunization and better nutrition should remain a major priority.
In line with the global “A Promise Renewed” movement the Minister of National Health Services reiterated that the drive towards the MDG 4 and 5 goals will be sustained until no mother, newborn or under-5 child dies from preventable causes. A comprehensive action plan for the next 10 years to achieve this goal was presented for discussion and endorsement during the meeting.
“With this plan we will further our evidence based equity approach. We will build on best practices and invest in finding new innovative ways to fight mother and new born mortality and we will focus on the most vulnerable.” said Minister Tarar.
The meeting was attended among others by the Country Representatives of the WHO, USAID and UNICEF. As special guests UNICEF’s global Director of Health, Dr. Mickey Chopra, and WHO’s regional Health Director, Dr Haifa Madi, attended the meeting.
“Every minute a child dies in Pakistan; every hour three women die – the majority from preventable diseases. This is unacceptable and I congratulate the Government of Pakistan for its renewed commitment to respond to this problem,” said Angela Kearney, the UNICEF Country Representative for Pakistan. “I am confident that this plan will have a direct positive impact on the survival of children and women” she continued.
The document helps to set national priorities, sets out clear budgeted targets and aims to mobilize civil society. It puts a strong focus on social determinants and addressing inequities in health while prioritising a multi-sectorial approach with strong links to nutrition, reproductive health and family planning.
Interventions focusing on the first 28 days of a child’s life, which accounts for almost two thirds of all under-five deaths in Pakistan, are essential in addressing under-five mortality. The new action plan takes this fact into account and focuses on introducing and scaling-up essential interventions for improved newborn care, as part of the continuum of care, putting particular focus on remote rural districts and urban slums.
The plan also addresses the overall low immunization coverage in Pakistan, taking into account that one out of four under-five deaths are caused by vaccine preventable diseases.