Welcome Initiative: KP to invest in immunization, maternal and child health

Monday 21 April 2014

March 19th 2014, PESHAWAR: The government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) will increase the number of health workers and vaccinators under the recently approved integrated PC-1 worth Rs22.89 billion, stated a press release issued by the health department on Tuesday.

The decision was taken during the third Technical Advisory Group (TAG) meeting chaired by K-P Health Services Director General Dr Syed Abdul Waheed Shah at the health department on Monday.

The group also assured that the ‘K-P Protection of Breastfeeding and Young Child Nutrition Bill 2014’ – which was still pending with the law department for vetting – will be passed shortly.

The DG directed to form a sub-committee of TAG, which will meet with the Secretary Law Department to hear the concerns of the department and take appropriate measures to address objections, if any, so that the bill could be enacted immediately.

During the meeting, Lady Health Worker (LHW) Programme Provincial Coordinator Dr Shabina Raza presented details of the PC-1, which aims to integrate Health Service Delivery with special focus on Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, LHWs, Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) and Nutrition Services.

She said with the implementation of the scheme, around 80% of the population will have access to primary healthcare services and, in the next four years, the province’s entire population will be immunised.

“We will recruit additional 3,600 LHWs, 111 lady health supervisors, 272 community midwives, 500 vaccinators and 294 technical officers at district and provincial levels,” added Shabina.

EPI Deputy Director Dr Janbaz Afridi shared the overall situation of immunisation in the province. “Measles coverage is almost insignificant and polio immunisation is our weakest area,” he said, quoting the Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey of 2012-13.

However, he went on to say that improvements have been seen after the recent campaigns. According to the 2013 survey, complete immunisation in K-P reached 54% which was 47% in the 2006-2007 report. “The provincial government is committed to strengthening routine vaccination and eradicating polio.” He added the Sehat ka Insaf campaign aims to do just that.

Nutrition and Reproductive Health Deputy Director Dr Qaisar Ali acknowledged the support of development partners, including Save the Children, for highlighting the issue of malnutrition and making it a priority on the agenda of politicians and lawmakers.

Save the Children Project Manager Dr Aisha Fatima said the programme was providing reproductive health services in five health facilities of Haripur district. “Last year, 24,644 women and children benefited from Save the Children project.”

Sharing his views, Save the Children Advocacy and Campaign Specialist Dr Irshad Danish welcomed the approval of integrated PC-1 by the provincial government. “Its implementation will help improve mother and child healthcare in the province and put K-P on track towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals,” he added.