Friday April 12, 2024

Call to address healthcare challenges

By Our Correspondent
August 14, 2020

LAHORE:Punjab Health Care Commission is committed to supporting continuity and access to quality maternal newborn, child health and family planning services across the province,” said Dr Shuaib Khan, Punjab Health Commission CEO, in a virtual consultative session organised jointly by Punjab Health Care Commission, Research and Development Forum for Safe Motherhood, and Health Service Academy Islamabad.

In this session, health experts from public and private sectors shared their experiences and suggestions for addressing the challenges in ensuring uninterrupted delivery of mother and child health related services in the prevailing pandemic.

Dr Shuaib Khan said that the commission has recently developed Minimum Service Delivery Standards (MSDS) relating to delivery of maternal and newborn healthcare which would be notified soon. Following this it would become mandatory for all midwifery centres and nursing homes to adhere to these standards. The commission will also provide technical support for the implementation of these standards across the province.

Dr Shahzad Ali Khan, Head of Department of Public Health, Health Service Academy, stated: “According to an estimate published in Lancet in July 2020, Covid-19 may lead to 31pc increase in infant and maternal mortality in 12 months in Pakistan if health services remain halted”. He added Covid-19 response has reduced availability and accessibility of already limited health services for mothers and children. Based on guidelines, available evidence and consultation with experts, a strategic framework for provision of MNCH/RH service has been developed by the Health Service Academy with technical support from Forum of Safe Motherhood. This document outlines specific policy actions for the provincial government and health department to ensure quality health services for mothers and children.

Dr Mushtaq Ahmed, Director Clinical Governance and Organisational Standards, Punjab Health Care Commission shared with the participants that all important aspects of health services of maternal care at the grassroots level have been incorporated in the Minimum Service Delivery Standards. He emphasised on the need for implementation of guidelines and standards already developed on infection prevention and control.

Sharing her experience, Dr Yasmeen Qazi, public health expert, said Covid-19 had provided us with an opportunity to put concerted effort towards improving, and ensuring continuity of family planning services. She suggested that the provincial departments and development partners should work together to scale up services through community midwives and focus should be placed on post-abortion and post-delivery, family planning services.

“The funds for RH services should remain available in all emergency situations like Covid-19,” recommended Dr Rubina Sohail from Services Institute of Medical Sciences. She also said that policymakers needed to work on the availability of information and RH services to disadvantaged women, especially of rural areas.

Dr Usman Ghani, from Directorate General Health Services Punjab, said that the relevant government departments have been working tirelessly for the last few months to ensure that health services for women and children are not compromised due to Covid-19 response. Given the resource constraint, there was a greater need than ever before to engage all private and public stakeholders for playing their part in achieving this objective, he added.

Dr Aman Ullah, CEO, Forum for Safe Motherhood, stressed that it was the shared responsibility of all stakeholders to join hands at this important time, towards the improvement and strengthening of MNCH and FP related health services. He added that, the strategic framework was just a beginning, undertaken to provide a roadmap which would take us forward towards implementation of specific actions, thereby contributing meaningfully to a better health system.

Dr Mushtaq Ahmed from Punjab Health Care Commission said that strategic framework presented and discussed in the meeting had highlighted important actions and steps in improving the system and the commission in line with its mandate would endorse and support relevant policy recommendations.