Maternal mortality rate highest in Balochistan across Pakistan
Health professionals checking a female patient in a remote area of Balochistan: Photo provided by Balochistan Nutrition Directorate

Maternal mortality rate highest in Balochistan across Pakistan

Syed Ali Shah :

QUETTA: The maternal mortality rate is highest in Balochistan as compared to other provinces of the country. Over 785 mothers out of 1,00,000 lose the battle for life while giving birth. 2017-18 conducted by Pakistan Demographic Health Survey paints a bleak picture when it comes to MMR and child mortality rate in the least developed province of the country.

Although, the maternal mortality rate has decreased from 276 to 186 deaths per 1,00,000 live births as per Pakistan Maternal Mortality Survey (PMMS) 2020.

“Alarming, we cannot protect mothers during a natural process”, Dr. Naila Ehsan, a famous gynecologist lamented. She stated that women from the poor and marginalized classes lose the battle for life while giving birth to a baby.

A woman with her daughter in one of the remote areas in Balochistan: Photo provided by nutrition directorate

Worst governance, social, tribal taboos deprive women of treatment 

In rural Balochistan, pregnant women have no facility to seek medical care because of the worst governance and social-tribal taboos. The mortality ratio of mothers in rural Balochistan is high as compared to urban Balochistan. “Rulers invest in buildings instead of humans”, Sanaullah Baloch, the central leader of Balochistan National Party (Mengal) said.

Balochistan has less qualified gynecologists. Private clinics of qualified gynecologists are always jam-packed with female patients from rural Balochistan and various parts of volatile South-Western Afghanistan.

Health professionals providing a medical treatment to a woman in rural Balochistan: Photo provided by nutrition directorate Balochistan

Most of the women are anemic: Dr. Zahida Kakar 

“Still a lot needs to be done to improve health facilities in rural Balochistan”, Dr. Zahida Kakar, a well-known gynecologist tells Quetta Voice. Most of the women suffer from anemia, hypertension, and other issues.

Besides MMR, the child mortality rate with 158 infant deaths out of each 1,000 is also the highest in Balochistan. Most of the children from marginalized, poor, and need families die during and after birth.

“Family Planning must be prioritized in Balochistan, as a key intervention for reducing maternal, infant, and under-five mortality in the province”, Dr. Amin Mandokhail, the Chief of Balochistan’s Nutrition Directorate suggested. He emphasized on a massive and organized awareness campaign coupled with better health facilities should be launched to cope with the growing maternal and child mortality rate in Balochistan.

Balochistan government allocates Rs. 45 billion for the health sector 

Balochistan government has allocated over Rs. 45 billion for the health sector during the financial budget for the year 2021-22. Despite this huge amount, government-run hospitals across Balochistan paint a bleak picture.

The concerned quarters/ authorities must not shy away from this bitter fact since it is a matter of millions of vulnerable women and children, Habib Tahir Advocate, the Chief of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Balochistan Chapter said. Mr. Tahir urged the political parties and civil society to mount pressure on the government to improve health facilities across the province.

Courtesy Rashid Chohan, the Assignment Editor Geo TV Quetta for providing additional information

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Quetta Voice is an English Daily covering all unfolding political, economic and social issues relating to Balochistan, Pakistan's largest province in terms of area. QV's main focus is on stories related to education, promotion of quality education and publishing reports about out of school children in the province. QV has also a vigilant eye on health, climate change and other key sectors.