QUETTA: Save the Children in collaboration with Lady Health Worker Program presented its first-ever Awards, honouring health workers from Balochistan who go above and beyond the call of duty under extraordinary circumstances, for saving precious lives of mothers and children.
Speaking on the occasion, the Additional Secretary Health Balochistan, Saleh Muhammad Nasir said “I really appreciate the effort made by Save the Children to recognize the efforts of frontline health workers, as they are the real change makers. I am honoured to be here where we are acknowledging the services of LHWs. Since LHWs are regularized and now we are devising the service structure of LHWs, the role of LHWs will expend and I am hoping that every lady health worker will play her vital role with more devotion”. These health workers, often with limited training and support, are involved in saving lives and building healthier communities every day.
Despite advances in health care, many people continue to suffer needlessly from preventable and easily treatable diseases. In Pakistan, access to health care is limited and people living in rural areas are often deprived of the most basic health services. The health workers on the frontline play a pivotal role by providing health care in many of the hardest to reach areas, often travelling on foot with just a back pack of supplies, providing much needed prevention, treatment and education to communities.
It is in the same realm that Save the Children held the award ceremony to acknowledge the efforts of LHWs at the provincial level and promote them as ‘champions’ of the EVERY ONE Campaign, a global Campaign of Save the Children focusing on reducing child and maternal mortality.
“I welcome all the lady health workers representing their districts, civil society members, UN agencies and respected speakers. I really appreciate the collaborative efforts made by Provincial Lady Health Worker’s program and Save the Children” said, Naseer Ahmed Baloch, Director General Health, Balochistan. The awards ceremony appreciated the efforts of 30 LHWs from across 30 districts of Balochistan.
“Balochistan is the largest areas wise province of Pakistan while in population of Pakistan. Balochistan is comprised on 30 districts and currently 7,200 LHWs are providing their services to the urban and rural communities of Balochistan; which hardly covers 43% area of the total population” said Dr Noor Muhammad Qazi, Provincial Coordinator National Program for LHWs.
Access to health care is limited and people living in rural areas often have the hardest time accessing the most basic health services. This is where the health workers who are at the frontline make a difference. They are able to reach some of the hardest areas, often travelling on foot. They are often the only source of providing needed prevention, treatment and health education to communities.
As part of its Campaign, Save the Children has called on the federal and provincial governments to increase the number of frontline health workers from 105,000 to 120,000 in the country to provide mothers with skilled support to improve child-feeding practices, including breastfeeding and contribute to reduction in maternal and newborn care, during the critical first 28 days of life that account for over 40% of child mortality. In addition, the governments must take measures to ensure that mother-to-mother support groups are established to improve feeding practices. Save the Children has trained a number of health workers to identify malnourished children and refer them to the nearest Outpatient Therapeutic Program site, We also train health workers on infant and young child feeding practices so that they can provide frontline advice and encouragement to mothers in the community.