Lahore           -      Punjab Health Care Commission is committed to supporting continuity and access of quality maternal newborn, child health and family planning services across the province in order to ensure better health of mother and child.

These remarks were expressed by health experts during a virtual consultative session organized jointly by Punjab Health Care Commission, Research and Development Forum for Safe Motherhood, and Health Service Academy Islamabad here yesterday. 

Renowned health experts from public and private sectors shared their experiences and suggestions for addressing the challenges in ensuring uninterrupted delivery of mother and child health related services in the prevailing pandemic.

While speaking on the occasion, Dr. Shuaib Khan, CEO Punjab Health Commission, said that the Commission has recently developed Minimum Service Delivery Standards (MSDS) relating to delivery of maternal and newborn healthcare.

Following this it would become mandatory for all midwifery centres and nursing homes to adhere to these standards, he said adding the Commission will also provide technical support for the implementation of these standards across the province. 

Dr Shahzad Ali Khan, Head of Department of Public Health, Health Service Academy, said, according to an estimate published in Lancet in July 2020, Covid-19 may lead to 31 per cent increase in infant and maternal mortality in 12 months in Pakistan if health services remain halted.

He further added that based on guidelines, a strategic framework for provision of MNCH/RH service has been developed by the Health Service Academy with technical support from Forum of Safe Motherhood.

Dr Mushtaq Ahmed, Director Clinical Governance and Organizational Standards, Punjab Health Care Commission, shared with the participants that all important aspects of health services of maternal care at the grassroots level have been incorporated in the Minimum Service Delivery Standards. He also strongly emphasized the need for implementation of guidelines and standards already developed on infection prevention and control.

Sharing her experience, Dr Yasmeen Qazi, a renowned public health expert, said that COVID-19 had provided them with an opportunity to put concerted effort towards improving, and ensuring continuity of family planning services. 

She suggested that the provincial departments and development partners should work together to scale up services through community midwives.

Dr. Usman Ghani, from Directorate General Health Services Punjab, said that the relevant government departments have been working tirelessly for the last few months to ensure that health services for women and children are not compromised due to COVID-19 response.

Dr Aman Ullah, CEO, Forum for Safe Motherhood, stressed that it was the shared responsibility of all stakeholders to join hands at this important time, towards the improvement and strengthening of MNCH and FP related health services. 

Concluding the session, Dr Mushtaq Ahmed, from Punjab Health Care Commission said that strategic framework presented and discussed in the meeting had highlighted important actions and steps in improving the system, and the Commission in line with its mandate, would endorse and support relevant policy recommendations.

He also appreciated the successful collaboration between the Punjab Health Care Commission, Health Service Academy and Forum for Safe Motherhood in organizing the virtual consultative session.