Media Briefing held to highlight Pakistan's participation in World Health Assembly
ISLAMABAD: Public health experts emphasized on adoption and implementation of Every Newborn Action Plan (ENAP) during a media briefing organized by Save the Children Pakistan Program and World Vision International. The World Health Assembly (WHA) takes place annually and is attended by delegations from all 194 WHO Member States. This year, during 67th session of WHA, there will be a major focus on the ENAP which is likely to be adopted at the assembly.
Giving the opening address, Arshad Mahmood, Director Advocacy and Child Rights Governance, Save the Children, shared the objectives of media briefing. He said in view of poor maternal and child health indicators Government of Pakistan should endorse the ENAP and commit to a reduction in newborn mortality rates at a national and provincial level with allocation of adequate resources for delivery of commitments.
“Media can play an important role in highlighting the importance of newborn health and identifying actions for improving their survival, health and development,” he said.
Dr. Maqsooda Kasi, Integrated Health Specialist, World Vision International, presented an overview of World Health Assembly and highlighted the importance of adoption of ENAP. She said that maternal mortality ratio in Pakistan is 276 per 100,000 live births, higher than the South Asian average of 220, while the under-five mortality rate is 89 per1000 live births according to the Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey 2012-13. This has been reduced from 138 per1000 in 1990, now the fourth largest number under-five deaths in the world. Dr. Kasi said that one in every 11 children in Pakistan dies before they reach the age of five whereas over 50% of those deaths occur during the first 28 days of a child’s life. There is a need to scale up services to reach every mother and newborn by addressing demand-and-supply-related bottlenecks that are preventing universal coverage of effective interventions, including removing financial she added.
Deliberating further on ENAP, Dr. Asma Badar, MNCH Specialist, Save the Children, shared that ENAP is a collaborative effort to build on the achievements of United Nations Secretary General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health and is designed in response to the demand for action to improve maternal and newborn health and to accelerate a global, harmonized response by linking newborn health initiatives to reproductive, maternal and child health program. She said Pakistan has made progress on MDGs 4 and 5, however, reductions in newborn mortality have been stagnant and newborn deaths account for a growing proportion of child deaths. Up to 75% of all newborn deaths can be prevented with low-cost, low-tech care, much of which also benefits women’s health, she added.
“Together with adoption of ENAP, Government of Pakistan should re-align its policies and plans with ENAP recommendations and allocate adequate resources to maternal and newborn health, and ensure adequate investment to improve the quality of care,” said Dr. Badar. She stressed on training, deployment, support and retention of health workers as well as institutionalizing maternal and newborn deaths surveillance, response and to assess quality and coverage of Maternal and Newborn Care in health information management systems.
The briefing was attended by a large number of media persons from electronic and print media who engaged in a Q&A session at the end of the session.