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UK unveils support to help prevent 120,000 child deaths in Pakistan

Maverick Report

ISLAMABAD: During the second and final day of her visit to Pakistan, UK Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening on Tuesday gave details of new British support for a program which will increase health services for Pakistani women, children and the poor.

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This aims to prevent 120,000 child deaths, one million unintended pregnancies and 2,000 fewer maternal deaths, whilst also helping 340,000 malnourished children, says a press release issued by the British High Commission here.

During her visit to a health clinic in Islamabad, the UK secretary of state saw firsthand the good work of lady health workers who will receive UK support through the DFID Provincial Health and Nutrition Program. The new program will bolster the ‘Essential Health Services Package’ in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, helping to increase uptake of effective reproductive, maternal, new-born and child, and nutrition services.

Justine Greening said: “Every year in Pakistan, 12,000 women die during pregnancy and 423,000 children die under the age of five — the fourth highest rate in the world. These are horrifying figures, all the more so because many of these deaths are as the result of preventable diseases such as diarrhea and pneumonia.”

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“The UK’s support to this program will help to increase awareness of health care to prevent such needless deaths, will improve nutrition and immunization services, and will make it easier for people to get the skilled help they need from community midwives and birth attendants. That will mean 350,000 more babies delivered in hospitals, preventing 750,000 women developing anemia during pregnancy, full immunization for 280,000 children and treatment for diarrhea for over one million,” she added.

During her visit, the UK secretary of state for international development met a range of politicians — including Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar — to discuss the forthcoming elections and the need for economic reform.

Justine Greening said: “The elections are a crucial milestone in Pakistan’s democratic history. We look forward to the peaceful transition of power with elections that are credible and support economic reforms that will help Pakistan thrive in the future. The UK and Pakistan have a unique bond, tied together by family, friendship, trade, history, and culture. I look forward to continuing to work closely together as partners for the long term, to help lift millions of people in Pakistan out of poverty.”

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The UK international development secretary also met Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to conduct a stock-take on the Education Reform Roadmap. This is a close partnership between the UK and Punjab government with an ambitious plan to support millions of children in school and improve the standard of their education.

Justine Greening said: “The UK has worked closely, in partnership, with Punjab over the last year to deliver strong results on education, which is the single most important factor that can transform Pakistan’s future. If educated, healthy and working, there is a vast wealth of talent and energy in Pakistan’s youth who could help to boost economic growth and unlock Pakistan’s potential on the global stage. That’s why education is the UK’s top priority in Pakistan.

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