Maternal anaemia addressed through iron and folic acid supplementation in the newly merged tribal districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Over 79,000 pregnant Pakistani women reached with iron and folic acid supplementation and nutrition education in the context of COVID-19.
Posted on September 2, 2022
PESHAWAR, Pakistan: Nutrition International and the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) joined hands to improve maternal anaemia in the newly merged districts of KP, which benefited over 78,000 pregnant women through the provision of iron and folic acid (IFA) supplementation. This was highlighted at a project dissemination event, organized by Nutrition International and Prime Foundation, to share the project progress, achievements and lessons learned. Mr. Amir Sultan, Secretary, Health Department, KP was the chief guest on the occasion, while Member of the Provincial Assembly, Ms. Rabia Basri and Dr. Akram Shah, Chief, Health Sector Research and Reforms Unit, KP were the guests of honour.
With support from the Government of Canada, Nutrition International implemented the project titled Iron and Folic Acid Supplementation for Addressing Maternal Anaemia in Pakistan as part of its COVID-19 Emergency Response Initiative. This one-year project (September 2021 – August 2022) was implemented in seven newly merged tribal districts of KP, including Bajaur, Khyber, Kurram, Mohmand, Orakzai, South Waziristan and North Waziristan. The project’s objective was to support the provincial government in addressing maternal anaemia in the target districts through technical assistance and commodities provision.
Speaking at the event, Dr. Shabina Raza, Country Director, Nutrition International, stated that Pakistani women of reproductive age bear the triple burden of malnutrition, with almost 42% suffering from anaemia.
“This year Nutrition International commemorates its 30 years of work in improving the health and nutrition of people in need, especially women, adolescent girls and children,” said Dr. Shabina. “Addressing maternal anaemia is one of our key priority areas and we have committed to prevent at least 60 million cases of anaemia worldwide, by 2030. This project is a reflection of our global commitment as we support the government of KP to prevent and control iron deficiency anaemia among pregnant and lactating women and improve pregnancy outcomes through IFA supplementation, capacity building of healthcare providers and community health workers, provision of supplies and awareness generation.”
Poor maternal and child health has been a long-standing issue in Pakistan. High rates of malnutrition among adolescent girls as well as women of reproductive age, coupled with underlying complications of early marriages, closely spaced pregnancies, and maternal malnutrition lead to a vicious cycle of high morbidity and mortality with adverse maternal and child health outcomes. The project addressed the root cause by successfully ensuring the provision of more than 90 IFA supplements to over 78,000 pregnant women. In order to promote safe motherhood and reduction of neonatal mortality and morbidity, nearly 12,000 safe delivery kits were provided to lady health workers. The project was also successful in training 1,400 health workers on infection prevention and control, interpersonal counselling on maternal and child nutrition and health, and infant and childcare.
“This project is a reflection of our global commitment as we support the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to prevent and control iron deficiency anaemia among pregnant and lactating women and improve pregnancy outcomes.
—Dr. Shabina Raza, Country Director, Nutrition International, Pakistan
Dr. Fazal Majeed, Director of Nutrition, Department of Health, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, thanked Nutrition International and acknowledged the support of the organization in improving the health and nutrition situation in the province.
Ms. Rabia Basri, Committee Chairperson of the KP Health Department/Member of Provincial Assembly, thanked Nutrition International and the department of health for their support and requested sustained support to the province in improving the maternal nutrition indicators.
Chief guest, Dr. Akram Shah, Chief Health Services Reforms Unit, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, appreciated Nutrition International’s support to the department in the most challenging and needy districts of the province. He assured full support of the department to the organizations for the design and execution of such programs.
The event brought together representatives from the Ministry of National Health Services, Provincial Health Department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Lady Health Worker Program of KP, academia, non-government organizations and media.