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Daily Times

Published Date: Oct 18, 2014

352,000 under-five kids die each year in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: A staggering 352,000 under-five children die each year in Pakistan, majority of them from preventable causes such as malaria and diarrhoea.
Many families have inadequate or no access to medicines and skilled health workers, under-nutrition among children is high and 44 percent children under-five are stunted, routine immunisation system is weak and immunisation coverage is only 66 percent in urban and 48 percent in rural areas, said Advocacy and Campaign, Child Rights Governance and Save the Children Director Arshad Mahmood, while addressing Save the Children Pakistan Programme in collaboration with Friends Foundation, who organised its annual global campaign mobilisation event, “Race for Survival”, coinciding with the “United Nations International Day for the Eradication of Poverty”.
Children from both public and private schools in Islamabad and Rawalpindi joined over 35,000 children in at least 65 countries across the globe to help raise awareness about the millions of children struggling to survive in some of the poorest and most disadvantaged communities on the planet. 
said that as per Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey (PDHS) 2012-13,
one in every 14 Pakistani children dies before reaching the age of one and one in every 11 does not survive to his or her fifth birthday.
also talked about the global significance of the campaign and that this
should be a call to the government to focus on the issue of child health through the race. “Thousands of children around the world will take to the streets in organised running races, to call for action to save the lives of millions of children living in the world’s most unforgiving environments,” he added. 
The director also shed light on
the issue of lack of access to frontline health workers, malnutrition and weak routine immunisation system and stated that the federal and provincial governments should take measures to resolve these issues by preparing plans and making adequate budgetary allocations.
MNA Maiza Hameed, speaking on the occasion, said that child mortality rate in Pakistan has remained unchanged since the last 20 years. She said that Pakistan has the highest still birth rates due to deteriorating health services and security situation for health workers but claimed the government is vigilant in taking all necessary actions. She concluded her speech by saying, “We do not accept that such a high number of children dying of preventable causes every day. Let us be outraged, let us be loud and let us be bold.”
SDPI Executive Director Dr Abid Sulehri highlighted the issue of malnutrition in Pakistan and requested the government to initiate school health and nutrition programmes in districts with poor nutrition situation. Saahil Executive Director Manizeh Bano acknowledged the role of lady health workers and urged the government to increase their number in the country and ensure their safety during their work for a more active role.
This year’s theme for the race is “The world’s toughest places to survive.” The theme reflects one of the key barriers to achieving MDG 4 (reducing child mortality), identified in Save the Children’s 2013 Lives on the Line Report. It was run by 360 children between the ages of 11 to 13 years in
Islamabad, Lahore and Sanghar.
Guests of honour included MNA Maiza Hameed, Nutrition Planning Commission of Pakistan Chairman Aslam Shaheen, Saahil Executive Director Manizeh Bano, SDPI Executive Director
Dr Abid Sulehri and MNCH Specialist Dr Asma Badar. Other participants included parents and guardians, school teachers, senior government officials and the media.

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