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Gul Saeed |

The way the Pakistan’s government sees it, they have effectively dealt with the issue of maternal mortality. They take pride in the fact that the country’s maternal mortality ratio (MMR) has declined from 332 in 2012 to 276 in 2016 (WHO, 2016) whilst conveniently ignoring the MMR in poverty-stricken areas, which is currently 700.

What if the future mothers to-be could be given workshops and training on reproductive health to improve their own lives?

These women, for whom good health and timely treatment is paramount, do not have the healthcare services they need — either because they are inaccessible due to distance and cost or of low quality when treated by male attendants— simply because of the inequitable health policies being fostered by the government.

This is reflected in the fact that the government invests a measly 0.92% of the GDP in public healthcare (The World Bank, 2014); inevitably pushing people to opt for private care because public health facilities are either absent or substandard. To top it off, the cost containment strategies of Pakistan’s market driven healthcare system make maternal care a commodity only available for wealthy consumers (Rau, 2015). Yet again leaving these women at the highest risk for maternal mortality.

Read more: The magical world of a mother

The government provides funding and resources for these initiatives, these girls will become more capable of taking charge of their maternal health and will no longer solely depend on Pakistan’s unjust healthcare system

Poverty should not mean that a mother loses the special privilege of holding her infant in her very own hands and that too due to causes that are both preventable and treatable if appropriate treatment is received. It is shameful that an experience so special can be so tragic for these women and their families. The death of these women, who play a vital role in many people’s lives as mothers, wives, and daughters, cripples those left behind.

Above all, the lack of presence of a mother figure is detrimental for the child. Not only are these children left to grieve the loss of their mother later in life; their physical and mental health is simultaneously being affected (Nickerson et al., 2011). Unfortunately, research reveals that these effects persist into adulthood.

We must approach this issue through a culturally relevant lens, recognizing that neither Pakistan’s governmental policies nor its cultural norms truly allow these women to attain health care equal to their rich counterpart

We, the financially stable citizens of Pakistan need to address the plight of our invisible and silent sisters in poverty. We must approach this issue through a culturally relevant lens, recognizing that neither Pakistan’s governmental policies nor its cultural norms truly allow these women to attain health care equal to their rich counterparts. Essentially, my suggestion is two-fold: the need for both short-term and long-term solutions.

Read more: The Mean Mother

Firstly, acknowledging the severity of the issue, if the Government increases public healthcare funding, it will increase access to health facilities through establishing community-based clinics would decrease the current MMR— that is if these women are lucky enough to be attended to by female practitioners such as community midwives or lady health workers.

Poverty should not mean that a mother loses the special privilege of holding her infant in her very own hands and that too due to causes that are both preventable and treatable if appropriate treatment is received

This is because many of these poor women belong to traditional households, where being examined by male doctors is uncomfortable for them and highly disapproved by men in the family.

Furthermore, taking a life course approach holds great potential for the majority of these poor women as they become locked in a vicious cycle of health adversities early-on in their lives, paving way for an unhealthy pregnancy. What if the future mothers to-be could be given workshops and training on reproductive health to improve their own lives? I believe that if the government provides funding and resources for these initiatives, these girls will become more capable of taking charge of their maternal health and will no longer solely depend on Pakistan’s unjust healthcare system which has a long way to go before it’s fixed.

Gul Saeed is a recent graduate from McGill University (Class of 2017) with a B.A. She is currently working as a research assistant in Canada and is highly involved with issues pertaining to Global Health as she is the Co-Director of the Montreal Youth Mental Health Alliance Program. Previously, she also has taken on the role of being the secretariat for the Montreal World Health Organization Simulation (MonWHO). The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.

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