ISLAMABAD, June 13, 2010: Despite government claims of having made significant improvements in mother and child health care to meet the country’s targets under the Millennium Development Goals, almost one-fifth of the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Centers monitored by FAFEN in the month of May 2010 do not have a maternity kit and a similar proportion does not have a labor room, reports FAFEN’s Health Institution Monitor for the month of June 2010 released here Sunday.
FAFEN Governance Monitors visited 92 Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Centers across Pakistan during May 2010 – 35 MCHs in 24 districts of Punjab, 25 MCHs in 20 districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, five MCHs in as many districts of Balochistan, 25 MCHs in 18 districts of Sindh, one MCH in FATA, and one MCH in the ICT.
Sixty percent of MCHs visited in Balochistan do not have delivery kits, and the same is true for 28 percent of MCHs in KPK, 12 percent in Sindh, and 11 percent in Punjab. As many as 23 percent of monitored MCHs in Punjab, 20 percent in Balochistan and four percent of MCHs visited in Sindh do not have a labor room. MCHs visited in Islamabad and FATA have the facility.
MCHs are central to the government strategy to improve maternal and child health status in the country but many of the monitored MCHs lack necessary infrastructure, equipment and facilities. For instance, the buildings of more than one-fourth monitored MCHs were in dilapidated condition and 16 percent MCHs don’t have a boundary wall. The sanitation and hygienic conditions of the MCHs monitored need prompt governmental attention. More than one-fourth of all MCHs monitored either do not have latrines or have latrines without running water. The infrastructure issues are more acute in Balochistan.
Around one-fifth of MCHs monitored in Balochistan do not have female staff to attend to female patients, and the same is true in about 12 percent of MCHs in Sindh, six percent of Punjab, and four percent in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Almost 23 percent of MCHs visited do not offer free-of-cost medicines to visiting patients, with wide geographic disparities around the country. Of MCHs visited, 40 percent in Balochistan, 32 percent in KPK, 17 percent in Punjab and 20 percent in Sindh do not offer free-of-cost medicines. In addition, 18 percent of pharmacies/dispensaries at MCHs were out of medicines when FAFEN monitors visited them in May 2010. One-third of the MCHs visited do not have a sterilizer. About 30 percent of all MCHs visited do not have a syringe cutter, raising the possibility of reuse of syringes – a practice that compromises government’s resolve to contain the spread of communicable diseases such as hepatitis, HIV, etc.
As far as other family planning services are concerned, around one-fifth of MCHs monitored across Pakistan do not have human resource to offer such services. FAFEN Governance Monitors interviewed at least one patient at each MCH monitored to assess their level of satisfaction with the services being provided. Nearly 12 percent of patients interviewed complained about the general absence of doctors and other medical personnel at the MCH, but almost 88 percent of patients interviewed said the staff who were present in MCHs provided them all required support.
FAFEN is a network of 35 civil society organizations working to foster democratic accountabilities in Pakistan. It is governed by Trust for Democratic Education and Accountability. For more information please visit www.fafen.org.