Countries which fail to focus on health care fail to progress. “Pakistan does not seem to have improved its health coverage rates,” said Dr Zulfiqar Bhutta, Chair, Division of Maternal and Child Health, Aga Khan University, and one of the seven members of the UN Secretary-General's independent Expert Review Group (iERG) on Information and Accountability for Women's and Children's Health. He was commenting on the report, Every Woman, Every Child: from commitments to action, recently released by the World Health Organization-sponsored body.
The report is the first in a series of four by iERG. Established in September 2011, iERG aims to monitor the results and resources employed by countries, between 1990 and 2010, in their effort to achieve the millennium development goals (MDGs) 4 on child survival and 5 on maternal and reproductive health.
Pakistan was able to attain a mere annual reduction of 1.8 per cent in the child mortality rate for children under five ending with 87 deaths per 1,000 live births for the period between 1990 and 2010 far below the 4 per cent or 40 deaths per 1,000 live births annually, requirement put forth in MDG 4. Up to 46 per cent of these deaths are of children less than a month old.
In terms of reducing maternal mortality and universal access to reproductive health as required by MDG 5 Pakistan has made progress by attaining an average annual reduction in maternal mortality of 3 per cent between 1990 and 2010. This is 2.5 per cent less than the 5.5 per cent target to be achieved by 2015.
According to the report of the 75 countries seeking to achieve MDG 4 only 13 were on course, while only 4 would be able to achieve MDG 5 by 2015.
“Health should percolate up in our governmental policies,” said Dr Bhutta. There is evidence which shows that those governments investing in adolescent, women and children’s health are planning for the long-term prosperity of their nations.
Rasool Sarang, Assistant Manager Media, Department of Public Affairs, Aga Khan University, Stadium Road, Karachi, on +92 21 3486 3920 or firstname.lastname@example.org