The programme is part of Norway’s major effort for maternal and children health under the UN Millennium Goals.
Half a million children under the age of five and close to 15,000 women giving birth die each year in Pakistan. “It is tragic that the most dangerous day in a woman’s life may be the day she is giving birth. I am happy that Norway and Pakistan now can work together to save the life of thousands of women and children”, Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg says.
In cooperation with Pakistani authorities the programme will be carried out in ten districts in the Sindh Province in south-eastern Pakistan. The districts have been chosen due to their high mother and child mortality and because they are lacking health services for the poor. The aim is to reduce mother and child mortality by 40 percent, by upgrading health services and by paying women to attend maternity controls and give birth at health centres.
“Women are dying in childbirth because they cannot afford or are not allowed by their family to give birth at health centres. In this programme we will work to change attitudes and pay women to give birth in clinics. We have seen positive effects of this in other countries”, the Prime Minister says.
The programme is a pilot project which will be thoroughly evaluated. Computer technology and mobile phones will be used to register data and measure results. If the programme proves successful, it will be implemented on the national level.
“In these times of financial crisis it is even more important than before to prevent the weakest from being hit the hardest”, Jens Stoltenberg says.