Celebrating the Work of Lady Health Workers and Community Midwives

Photo: Save the Children Pakistan

This blog was originally published by the EveryOne Campaign. Written by Arshad Mahmood, Dr. Naveed Jafri and Memoona Bhatti. 

Save the Children in collaboration with Integrated Reproductive Maternal Newborn Child Health & Nutrition Program Punjab conducted the 2nd Health Worker Awards, honoring the best performing Lady Health Workers from Punjab who go above and beyond the call of duty under extraordinary circumstances to save the precious lives of mothers and children. These health workers, often with limited training and support, are involved in saving lives and building healthier communities every day.

Despite advances in health care, many people continue to suffer needlessly from preventable and easily treatable diseases. In Pakistan, access to health care is limited and people living in rural areas are often deprived of the most basic health services. The health workers on the frontline play a pivotal role by providing health care in many of the hardest to reach areas, often travelling on foot with just a backpack of supplies, providing much needed prevention, treatment and education to communities.

The objective of the ceremony was to acknowledge and appreciate the commitment and efforts of LHWs and CMWs. Civil society, donors and government representatives were invited to the award ceremony. Arshad Mahmood, Director Advocacy & Campaigns and Child Rights Governance at Save the Children Pakistan Program, briefed the audience about the EVERY ONE campaign. He said that currently Punjab has 48000 LHWs who are able to cover more than 71 % of the population. He said: “We need to ensure that not only Punjab but the whole country is 100% covered by LHWs, so that every mother and child have access to health care. Similarly there are 4000 CMWs in Punjab and there is dire need to induct more CMWs to ensure the presence of Skilled Birth Attendance at all deliveries.”

Dr. Tanwir Ahmed ADGHS IRMNCH&N thanked the Health Workers for being a part of the program. “The Health Worker Award ceremony has been arranged in collaboration with Save the Children 2nd time at Provincial level to acknowledge the services of Health Workers”, said Dr. Tanwir.Dr. Zafar Ikram, Provincial Coordinator MNCH Program reinforced  that Govt of Punjab should increase the number of CMWs by 15000 to ensure presence of Skilled Birth Attendant at every delivery.  Dr Javed Umar, Provincial Coordinator LHW Program, shared the process of selecting the best performing lady health workers and CMWs of the districts and their motivation towards achievement of MDGs 4 & 5.  

Dr Zahid Pervaiz DG Health Punjab appreciated the services of Health Workers. Appreciating their amazing work, Dr. Zahid said that this is the time to raise awareness of the challenges that they face every day. He also reitriated that Health Department of Punjab will conduct the health workers awards so that the efforts of these Health Workers  are appreciated as well bringing improvement in their service delivery. Dr. Naveed, Provincial Manager Advocacy & Campaigns, thanked all the Health Workers, Chief Guest, Departent of Health, Developmental partners and civil society organization for their active participation at the event.

Tauseeq Haider, brand ambassador for EVERY ONE campaign by Save the Children Pakistan Program, emphasized on increasing the numbers of LHWs and CMWs. “They are our unsung heroines, it’s high time that their numbers are increased and their capacity is built so that they can deliver their best.”

Later shields, certificates and cash prizes were distributed to the best health workers of all the districts in the province by the Chief Guest the Secretary Health of Punjab and other guests of honor.

As part of its Campaign, Save the Children has called on the federal and provincial governments to increase the number of frontline health workers from 105,000 to 120,000 in the country to provide mothers with skilled support to improve child-feeding practices, including breastfeeding and contribute to reduction in maternal and newborn care, during the critical first 28 days of life that account for over 40% of child mortality.In addition, the governments must take measures to ensure that mother-to-mother support groups are established to improve feeding practices.

“Save the Children Pakistan Program thanks the Government of Punjab for owning and committing to take forward initiatives for the welfare of LHWs. Under strong patronage of the government, we can foresee LHWs, private sector and public institutions performing in an improved way”, said Arshad Mahmood, Director Advocacy & Campaigns and Child Rights Governance Save the Children Pakistan Program.

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