According to the charity organization Save the Children, at least one million newborns die within 24 hours of birth throughout the world, of which 200,000 deaths occur in Pakistan putting us at the top of the list of newborn death rates globally. Child mortality rate in Pakistan is the highest followed by Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Afghanistan and several others. The Pakistani chapter of the organization urged the government to take necessary steps in order to address this medical dilemma. Shocking as the revelation is, it brings us back to an issue that has been raised on countless occasions: lack of basic medical facilities and healthcare for the mother and her child.

The most aggravating aspect of child mortality in Pakistan is the fact that these deaths are preventable. They can be easily stopped if the mother is placed within the proper care of a certified birth attendant. Although the government has initiated the deployment of health community midwives and health workers for the assistance of mothers and their infants, the plight has gone from bad to worse with nearly 70,000 infants dying on the first day of birth. The reason here is abysmal: midwives sent to the rural populations – where these deaths occur most frequently – are under-trained and over-worked.

Furthermore, 18,000 children under five die in Pakistan annually despite the fact that the ailments these young ones suffer from are simply a matter of prevention and care (something that is glaringly absent from the agenda in the health ministry that rarely brings up the impasse to begin with). The need of the hour is to appoint qualified health workers, including midwives, to remote areas with little access to authentic medical care and to treat these lives – increasingly poverty-ridden – as lives are treated in wealthy metropolises and developed areas.