Karachi:November 11:Federal health secretary Muhammad Ayub Shaikh on Thursday hoped that with the support of the private health sector and international participation, the burning issue of infant and maternal mortality would be resolved soon by improving health conditions for newborns babies and mothers in impoverished areas of Pakistan.
He was speaking at the launching ceremony of Umeed-e-Nau, a five-year project by the Aga Khan University in collaboration with the government of Pakistan, international and local donor agencies that is aimed at improving maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health in Pakistan.
Funded by a US$25 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Umeed-e-Nau (new hope) is a five-year project that will see the AKU work with public sector programmes and primary care providers such as lady health workers and community health midwives to deliver proven interventions and improve the quality of care at health facilities in 14 rural districts in Balochistan, Southern Punjab and Sindh, as well as urban slums in Karachi.
The districts include Badin, Dadu, Hyderabad/Matiari, Karachi, Jafferabad, Jamshoro, Lasbela, Mirpur Khas, Muzaffargarh, Nasirabad, Qambar Shahdadkot, Rahim Yar Khan, Sanghar and Thatta. The project also includes a groundbreaking effort to provide health education through schools for adolescent girls in Pakistan.
“Federal and provincial governments, public and private institutions, civil society and every one of us should team up to meet the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030,” said Professor Zulfiqar Bhutta, founding director of the Aga Khan University’s Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health. “Projects like Umeed-e-Nau can help Pakistan achieve Goal of SDGs 3 for health, which also requires additional investments in improving nutrition, keeping children in schools and addressing environmental health and gender equity.”
The project will operate through a new research centre, the Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health, which will be established through a generous gift of Rs 2 billion from the Hashoo Foundation. Muhammad Ayub Shaikh, secretary of the National Health Sciences, Regulations and Coordination, expressed his commitment to join hands with the AKU and accelerate progress.
“Umeed-e-Nau will test a variety of approaches in an effort to develop insights and evidence that can influence policy across the country and beyond its borders,” Professor Zulfiqar Bhutta added. “We believe that the project will reduce stillbirths and newborn deaths by 20 per cent, as well as deaths from pneumonia and diarrhoea by 30 percent through these strategies.”
On the occasion, a message from Dr Christopher Elias, president of the Global Development Programme at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, was delivered. “We are proud to support Pakistan’s efforts to improve the quality and reach of health services to reduce preventable deaths and make progress toward the country’s 2030 development goals.”
AKU President Firoz Rasul thanked the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for its partnership and support to improve maternal and child health in Pakistan. “As part of its activities to support the sustainable development goals, the AKU has pledged to invest more than US$85 million over the next decade in support of the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health, which is designed to help achieve Goal 3 of SDGs,” Firoz Rasul said.The news.
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