Nations in the world have been divided into three categories on the basis of their economic, social and political standings. These categories include the developed, developing and the under developed countries. However, some dilemmas are universal in nature and affect the whole world (including countries belonging to all three categories) in one way or the other.
At the end of the 20th century, all the member countries of United Nations unanimously adopted the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for a period of 15 years. In 2015 at the end of MDGs, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were set to provide a guideline for countries while formulating their socio-economic policies and development programs.
Amongst the most important of the goals during both MDGs and SDGs was to reduce maternal and infant mortality ratios on a global level. Still, the challenge of providing access to quality health facilities for women and infants in the developing countries remains to be a distant dream.
Pakistan in this regard stood at the 149th position in the Maternal Mortality Ratio Index in 2015. Various estimates indicate that nearly 170 out of 1000 pregnancy cases result in mother’s death every year. The death rate in such cases is high especially, in the rural areas.
There are multiple medical and social reasons accounting to these unsettling numbers. Researchers suggest that the best age for a female to conceive is somewhere between 20-30 years. Still, most families in the country lack awareness which makes way for women conceiving at a point when their body is not completely ready for it as a result of which medical complications take place.
Poverty and low literacy rates are yet another factor owing to which women either do not have access to basic health facilities or they do not visit a doctor as regularly as they should.
Majority of the births in the rural areas take place at homes and that too with the help of unqualified birth attendants. This happens mostly because of two reasons. Firstly, because women are expected to stay at home and secondly, the health centers are too far to reach in time. Shortage of health facilitation centers, doctors, nurses and even beds in public sector hospitals can be counted for some of the other factors that contribute towards a high mother infant mortality rate in Pakistan.
Table 1: Health care facilities in Pakistan
|Population per Doctor
|Population per Dentist
|Population per Bed
(Source: Pakistan Bureau of Statistics)
A rejection towards the idea of family planning normally results in women giving birth to children without appropriate breaks that a woman’s body requires.
These socio-economic factors make way for medical complications such as hemorrhage, sepsis, eclampsia, anemia, hyper tension and cardiac problems on one hand and put the infants life at risk on the other.
Even those fortunate mothers who somehow survive the trauma end up facing the shock of a still births or that of a mal-nourished child whom they are likely to lose before he or she reaches the age of 5.
Every country is required to spend 6 percent of its GDP on the provision of basic and life saving services as finalized by the World Health Organization. Pakistan has only been spending 0.5 to 0.8 percent of its GDP on health since the last decade which is very low as compared to the set target.
It seems like a long way to go before our governments are able to provide sufficient health care facilities to our mothers and infants. All political parties have a crucial role to play in bringing about a change in attitude and behaviors and in legislation for the protection of our present and future generations.