Maternal health in over-burdened hospitals in Pakistan

Pakistan's high rate of maternal mortality is largely attributable to preventable conditions where timely interventions are not made, according to data from the World Health Organization Multi-country Survey on Maternal and Newborn Health (WHOMCS).

The survey's findings, which were disseminated at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences on Wednesday (April 10th) are based on data collected between May 2010 and December 2011. They show that 48 per cent of women experienced postpartum haemorrhage during childbirth, 50 per cent of women surveyed suffered severe anaemia, and a further nine per cent pre-eclampsia.

From a sample of 314,623 women, the WHOMCS showed a maternal mortality ratio of 299 per 100,000 births.

Speaking to Pakistan's Express Tribune, the head of obstetrics at Holy Family Hospital Dr Rizwana Chaudhry said: "Government-run tertiary care hospitals are over-burdened because of the pathetic condition of primary healthcare centres in rural areas."

The WHO describes interventions needed to combat maternal mortality as being "widely available" in hospitals in Pakistan, but shortages of beds and staff mean that women referred by primary healthcare centres are not receiving adequate treatment.