30pc newborns die in DI Khan, Mianwali hospitals

ISLAMABAD: Every third newborn baby in two remote districts of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa dies due to poor facilities at district hospitals, certified data collected by The News from 20 districts of the two provinces revealed.

The data shows that the impoverished district of Dera Ismail Khan in KP witnesses around 100 monthly deaths while around 30 percent newborns die in the neighbouring Mianwali district.The district headquarters hospitals (DHQs) of Punjab and KP were requested by this correspondent to provide data of neonatal deaths from November 1, 2014 to November 24, 2014 under the respective Punjab Right to Information and Transparency Act 2013 and KP Right to Information Act.

Shockingly, the certified information provided by the executive district officer (Health), DI Khan, shows that 105 newborn babies died in less than four weeks at the district’s tertiary care hospital out of total 322 births during the period.

Similarly, EDO (Health) Mianwali revealed that during the specified time period, 36 newborns died out of total 126 births. The ratio of neonatal deaths remained 28.5% in Mianwali — slightly lesser than DI Khan’s 32.6 percent.

The data shows that during the same period, a total of 139 newborn babies died in 11 districts of KP with overall ratio of 6.6 percent deaths. Similarly, in nine districts of Punjab, 50 neonatal deaths were reported in the specified four weeks out of 1,311 total births with the ratio of 3.81 percent.

The DHQs of Bahawalpur, Kasur, Attock and Pakpattan reported zero neonatal deaths while Toba Tek Singh and Nankana Sahib reported five deaths of newborn babies each.In KP, Nowshera, Battagram and Lakki Marwat reported zero deaths while Haripur reported 12 deaths, Mardan seven, Hangu six and Mansehra reported four deaths.

Medical Superintendent of DHQ Mianwali Malik Muhammad Khan told The News that the hospital is the only nursery in the district, so complicated cases from all tehsils are brought to the hospital.

He said on an average 30 plus neonatal deaths are witnessed in the hospital. “Lack of awareness and untrained birth attendants are the reasons for the high number of deaths.” Talking to The News, in-charge of nurseryTalking to The News, in-charge of nursery at DHQ DI Khan Dr Fazal said lack of facilities is resulting in poor neonatal care in the hospital as only 25 beds are available at the neonatal care ward for the entire district. He said usually two patients are given one bed in hospital.

“We are trying to upgrade our facilities. Previously, we only had 12 beds for newborn babies but we have increased the number to 25 with the help of government and World Health Organisation (WHO),” he said.

Dr Fazal said average monthly deaths are 60 to 100 out of 300 to 500 births.

Talking to The News, a senior gynaecologist of Rawalpindi said several factors are responsible for neonatal deaths. She said Intra-Uterine Growth Restriction (IUGR) or poor growth of a baby in the mother’s womb during pregnancy is one of the major causes of neonatal deaths in Pakistan as mothers are not given proper care, especially in poor areas.

She said lack of equipment like Cardio Toco Graph Machines in some districts is also one of reasons for high death rate.“The government should ensure supply of latest equipment to all the districts of the country besides creating awareness about the maternal and child health in rural areas where people consult ill-trained birth attendants during pregnancy,” she said.

Waseem Abbasi
Friday, January 30, 2015

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