Role of community-based saving groups discussed

CHITRAL, April 25: The Aga Khan Foundation (Pakistan) organized a seminar to share findings of its recent research study on ‘Role of community-based saving groups enabling greater utilization of community midwives in Chitral district of Pakistan’ on Thursday. IMG_1368 copyThe study was funded by Maternal and Newborn Health Programme – Research and Advocacy Fund (RAF), says a press release issued by the AKF. A panel of experts from district government, health department and civil society deliberated upon the study. Speaking on the occasion, Deputy Commissioner Chitral Mohammad Shoaib Jadoon, who was the chief guest, said the government was making all efforts to provide better health facilities to the people. He said Pakistan was facing serious challenges in terms of healthcare and we needed to join hands to overcome them. He appreciated the role of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and other non-government organizations in extending quality healthcare services to the rural communities and hoped that more such collaborative initiatives would be developed in the future. Dr Qayyum Noorani (Programme Manager Health Aga Khan Foundation and the principal investigator of the research) presented findings of the research study. He said the study data strongly suggested that membership of local women or of their family members within ‘Community-based saving groups’ (CBSGs), had greatly helped them in accessing quality ‘Maternal and Neonatal Health’ (MNH) services through skilled providers particularly through community midwives (CMWs). He said results suggest that CBSG members made significantly higher use of continuum of care (ANC, delivery & PNC) provided by CMWs and other skilled healthcare providers. CBSG member’s use of MNH services by skilled providers was higher as compared to provincial and national statistics. (Please see the annexed segment and summary of the research to know more about findings of the study). Dr Noorul Islam, Medical Superintendent of District Headquarter Hospital, Chitral in his speech highlighted the importance of coordination between public and private sectors to improve health services to the masses. He said that awareness should be raised among the people about common health challenges to minimize financial losses and improved living conditions. Dr Iftikhar uddin, Medical Officer of Tehsil Headquarter Hospital, Drosh, in his speech highlighted the issues faced by local communities in accessing healthcare on timely basis. Mrs Jaffaryad Hussain, Principal of the School of Midwifery in Chitral, appreciated the idea of healthcare provision through CMWs to women of hard-to reach areas in Chitral. She said that women in need of antenatal and post natal care in these areas suffer a lot due to social, financial and other problems that needs to be resolved on urgent basis. Farid Ahmed from Aga Khan Rural Support Programme explained the idea of ‘Community Based Savings Groups’ (CBSGs) through a documentary film. He said that under the ‘Chitral Child Survival Program’ (CCSP), more than four hundred CBSGs have been established since 2008 by AKRSP. Working in different parts of district Chitral, these groups now have a membership base of more than seven thousand men and women. He said that these self-help, autonomous groups have significantly benefitted local women by reducing financial barriers in accessing skilled obstetric and neonatal care. Aisha Maab from Aga Khan Health Service, Pakistan (AKHS,P) in her presentation said that under CCSP, twenty eight ‘Community Midwives’ (CMWs) were trained and deployed across Chitral district that are now providing low-cost, reliable and near to home healthcare services to thousands of women. She said that the institutionalization of CMWs was made possible through a pioneering public-private partnership initiative between ‘National Maternal and Newborn Child Health Program’ and the Aga Khan Foundation (Pakistan). Earlier, Fazal e Malik, Regional Programme Manager of Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) welcomed the participants and briefed them about objectives of the seminar. Dr Sharifullah Khan shared details of community dialogues that were organized to share findings of the research with six communities in the district. In the end, Shakeela Wali, Project Coordinator, AKRSP presented the note of thanks. The seminar was moderated by Yusuf Shahzad.  ]]>

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