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The situation of child health in Pakistan is abysmal and serious efforts are needed

by the government and civil society to save lives of thousands of children who die
every year from preventable diseases.
This grim picture of the deteriorating child health situation could be seen in the annual
health report of the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) for the year 2011, hich says
one child dies e!ery minute from "P# (e$panded program on immunisation diseases),
diarrhea and acute respiratory infection (A%#)&
The report also re!eals that e!ery year about '00,000 infants die in the first year of their
life&
(hild health in Pakistan is among the most important national issues that need serious
attention&
(hild mortality in Pakistan is a ma)or cause of concern, ith e!ery one among 10
children dying before reaching the age of fi!e and one among *0, )ust after they are born&
Pakistan is among the de!eloping nations of the orld that has yet to do much for the
elfare of the general public&
Pneumonia and air pollution seem to be the factors affecting the health of Pakistani
children& The air pollution is mostly caused by harmful emissions of biogas, hich is
used in most houses of Pakistan&
The main reason behind groing child mortality in Pakistan is lack of child healthcare
facilities in rural areas, here ma)ority of population li!es&
+o state spending on healthcare, ab)ect po!erty, lo literacy, lack of skilled birth
attendants, idespread communicable diseases, insufficient emergency child health
ser!ices in go!ernment run district and rural hospitals are amongst other ma)or reasons
behind groing diseases in children&
Maternal, neborn and child health care statistics in Pakistan are some of the poorest in
,outh Asia&
A holistic approach is needed to impro!e maternal and neborn health, mainly by
impro!ing and upgrading facilities at the district hospitals& Most common and lethal
diseases in Pakistan include (A%#) acute respiratory, infection, !iral hepatitis, malaria,
diarrhea, dysentery, scabies, goiter, hepatitis and tuberculosis&
Among the !ictims of acute respiratory infection (A%#) most !ulnerable are children
hose immune systems ha!e been eakened by malnutrition&
Ma)ority of children !isiting hospitals and dispensaries suffer from the respiratory
ailments and serious attention is needed to pro!ide better medical treatment to children
li!ing in rural areas& -iral hepatitis, particularly that caused by types . and ( are ma)or
epidemics in Pakistan ith nearly 12 million indi!iduals infected ith either of the !irus&
The main cause remains massi!e o!eruse of therapeutic in)ections and reuse of syringes
during these in)ections in the pri!ate sector healthcare&
(hildren are also amongst the hepatitis patients and their number is groing sharply&
Malaria is a problem faced by the loer class people in Pakistan& The unsanitary
conditions and stagnant ater bodies in the rural areas and city slums pro!ide e$cellent
breeding grounds for mos/uitoes&
+ike adults, children also suffer from malarial diseases, hich needs serious attention of
healthcare policymakers& 0iarrhea is rampant in the country due to use of contaminated
ater& #t is estimated that about 20 per cent of diarrhea patients are children& ,imilarly,
diseases like dysentery, scabies, dengue, goiter are also on the rise&
"$panded Programme on #mmuni1ation ("P#) Pakistan pro!ides !accination against
childhood tuberculosis, poliomyelitis, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, hepatitis .,
haemophilus influen1a type b and measles, besides protecting pregnant ladies ith
tetanus to$oid and their neonates against neo2natal tetanus&
3oe!er, there is no success e!en to control polio& Most births hich take place at home
under untrained super!ision, hich are responsible for alarming mortality of mothers and
neborns&
(hildren under the age of fi!e face multiple obstacles, including birth in)uries and
infectious diseases& Millions of children suffer from short2 and long2term ad!erse
conse/uences of illnesses, malnutrition and in)uries that impact their ell2being and
options in life, including feer educational opportunities and diminished future economic
prospects&
(hild health is closely related to maternal health, as nutrition during pregnancy, birth
conditions, birth spacing, and health status of the mother impact the health of the child
prior to, during and after birth&
+argely because of these factors, three million infants are stillborn each year&
The recent de!astating floods in Pakistan ha!e further increased the disease burden&
4nited 5ations (hildren6s 7und (45#("7) says as many as three and a half million
children in flood2ra!aged Pakistan may be at risk of contracting deadly diseases carried
through contaminated ater and insects& 45#("7 says the greatest threats to public
health in Pakistan at the current time are certainly from aterborne diseases, hich can
intensify in precarious hygiene conditions, and hen people ha!e limited or poor access
to safe ater and sanitation ser!ices&
0iseases like cholera or acute atery diarrhoea, dysentery or bloody diarrhoea, typhoid
fe!er and hepatitis, can all cause e$cess mortality and morbidity amongst the susceptible
populations in the flood2hit areas&
There is also an increased risk of malaria and dengue fe!er, since the stagnant ater may
pro!ide an ideal breeding ground for mos/uitoes 8 the !ector that is responsible for
transmission&
To cope ith the situation, the go!ernment must open more children hospitals in the
country& #n ,indh pro!ince, there is )ust one big children hospital, 5ational #nstitute of
(hild 3ealth (5#(3), running in 9arachi by the federal go!ernment& There is dire need
to open more children hospitals in the pro!ince and impro!e children departments in the
hospitals of go!ernment2run teaching colleges in 9arachi, 3yderabad, :amshoro,
5aabshah, ,ukkur and +arkana&
#n order to sa!e li!es of children, pediatric ards should be opened in all district
head/uarter hospitals, here emergency ser!ices along ith trained child disease e$perts
should be made a!ailable&
+ooking for technical support and Partnership&
,;<
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