By: Rafiullah Mandokhail
QUETTA: In order to save thousands mothers and children lives, an awareness raising campaign – mother and child health in the first thousand days and beyond has been launched here in the provincial capital Quetta. The campaign titled ‘Umeed Say Aagay’ is aimed to foster a healthy community, where no mother or child dies, due to any preventable cause especially malnutrition. The campaign is initiated by Human Development Foundation in collaboration with Nutrition department – SUN secretariat, Ministry of Planning Development and Reform Government of Balochistan.
Ex-provincial minister Jaffar Khan Mandokhail, Ex-speaker Balochistan Assembly Jamal Shah Kakar, Director Health department Dr. Umer Hayat Hanjo, MNCH Specialist Wold Food Program Dr. Aftab Bhatti, MNCH Specialist UNICEF Dr. Aziz Khan, Program Policy Officer Strategic Planning Unit – IRMNCH, Director Nutrition Cell Balochistan Dr. Amin Mandokhail, Chief Nutrition Planning Commission Dr. Aslam Shaheen, Advocacy Specialist Nutrition International and Planning Commission Dr. Irshad Danish, Chief Health and Nutrition P&DD government of Balochistan Hafiz Muhammad Qasim, DPM, M&E Directorate of Health and Nutrition Dr. Naqeebullah Niazi, Executive Director HDF Saeed ul Hassan, Team Leader Zhob Region Muhammad Ikram and Social Organizer Naeem Gul Mandokhail, senior politicians, government officials from Planning & Development Department, Directorate of Health and Integrated Reproductive Mother, Newborn & Child Health (IRMNCH), Provincial SUN Secretariat, Departments of Education, Forestry and Agriculture, senior representatives of UN agencies, CSOs and journalists attended the launching ceremony held at a hotel here.
Human Development Foundation through its campaign ‘Umeed se Aagay’ calls for an urgent action both at individual and collective levels to raise mass awareness about the alarming implications of malnutrition and the benefits of good nutrition, preventive and therapeutic practices at the grassroots levels. HDF is scaling up successes of its proven and highly cost- effective model of Mother and Child Wellness Program which has successfully reduced the IMR, CMR, and MMR to less than 50% of the countrywide rates fighting numerous preventable diseases in over 300 villages located across the country.
According to the statistics, over 400,000 mothers and children under the age of five, die of preventable causes every year and over 175,000 of these deaths are related to malnutrition in Pakistan. Malnourished children have a higher risk of death from common childhood illness such as diarrhea, pneumonia etc. Nutrition-related factors contribute to about 45% of deaths in children under five years of age.
Speaking on the occasion Ex-speaker Balochistan Assembly Jamal Shah Kakar said that the government should think differently than spending heavy budgets on brick and mortar and must take a strategic shift towards developing trained human resource especially female frontline health workers, who can play key role in saving lives of hundreds and thousands of infants and mothers.
Aslam Shaheen representative Planning Commission, Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform acknowledged HDF’s approach of working closely with the government under public private partnerships which ultimately help both partners bridge the implementation gap and more specifically minify the trust deficit.
The senior government officials suggested that the linkages should be strengthen with all concerned line departments at the provincial level, so that HDF could avail opportunities of working together with the government. It was also recommended to form a team who could stay engaged with Strategic Planning Unit of the Directorate of Health, Nutrition and other focal points of IRMNCH.
Through ‘Umeed Say Aagay’ campaign, HDF is complementing the initiatives and ongoing efforts of the government and other partners, who are specifically focusing on promoting right nutrition in the First 1000 days of mother and child to strengthen the foundation that lasts newborn’s entire lives. This is the most critical window that shapes their bodies and develop brains allowing them to do better in schools, take control of their lives and avail the choices and opportunities to have higher earnings and develop their own life trajectory. Under the strategic leadership of Ministry of Planning Development and Reform and following a high collaborative approach, HDF is partnering with relevant stakeholders to multiply efforts and maximize their impact. Being one of the core members of Pakistan SUN Movement and part of Scaling Up Nutrition Civil Society Alliance (SUN-CSA), HDF will be extended support by over 200-member organizations of this alliance located across Pakistan. The SUN secretariat will share the relevant Information, Education and Communication material from its existing pool for further dissemination through HDF’s campaign.
HDF has direct outreach to 33 districts having eight regional offices.
The campaign will be conducted directly in the selected union councils, where HDF is already implementing its programs. The campaign will mainly focus women of child bearing age 14-49, newborns and children up to five years of age through existing community and facility based entry points.
HDF envisages three-pronged strategies for this campaign to engage and influence the partner communities, all critical stakeholders and activists to facilitate positive change in beliefs, behaviors, knowledge, skills, capacities, systems, policies and practices. The prime approach entails both bottoms up and top down strategies. Since 2002, HDF has made huge strides in continuously reducing infant and child mortality, improving maternal health, decreasing substantial number of mothers’ deaths and fighting a number of preventable diseases under its Mother and Child Wellness Component of Primary Health Program in over 300 villages located across Pakistan.
Published in The Balochistan Point on March 30, 2019