Pakistan has a relatively high infant mortality rate compared to other countries.
According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), the infant mortality rate (IMR) in Pakistan was around 57 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2019, which is considered to be relatively high. A number of factors contribute to this high IMR in Pakistan, including poverty, lack of access to healthcare, and poor nutrition.
Other socio-economic factors such as low literacy rate, and lack of access to clean drinking water and sanitation also increase child mortality in the country. Maternal mortality is also relatively high in Pakistan, which can contribute to infant mortality as well.
Despite the difficult situation, the Government is taking various steps to improve the situation. Government healthcare facilities are being developed and expanded, and efforts are underway to improve maternal and child healthcare services in the country.
And also many NGOs and other social organizations, are providing health facilities including vaccination, family planning and maternal and child health care for remote areas. On the other hand, countries like Finland which have the lowest rates of infant death have been widely adopting the baby box concept.
What is a Baby Box?
The baby box is a social innovation: a maternity package with baby clothes and other items for expectant mothers to promote the well-being of the baby and family.
Also known as a maternity package or baby care package, this box usually has items that will help parents take care of the baby. The box itself can also be used as a crib or bassinet for the baby to sleep in.
Baby boxes have been used for many years in many countries, particularly in Europe, as a way to help reduce infant mortality rates. The idea behind the baby box is that it provides a safe and clean place for a newborn baby to sleep, which can help to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related deaths.
Additionally, providing baby boxes with essential items such as clothes, blankets, and other basic necessities can be beneficial for families who might not have the resources to purchase these items on their own, it will also help to improve the overall well-being of the newborn and mother.
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Baby boxes have been implemented in some areas of Pakistan as well, in an effort to lower the high infant mortality rates. Many NGOs distribute baby boxes containing essential items such as clothes, blankets, and mosquito nets to help protect newborns from malaria and other diseases. Some also distribute a small amount of cash to the family, to help with expenses such as transportation to the hospital during delivery.
It is worth noting that, a baby box alone may not solve all the issues contributing to the high infant mortality rate. It could be one of the important steps to tackle the problem, but it needs to be combined with multiple strategies and efforts to improve access to healthcare, nutrition, and maternal education.
The items include clothes, warm blankets, a thermometer, diapers, etc. The baby box is not a one-size-fits-all solution to intricate health challenges. However, it offers significant health and social gains, especially for those who are commonly the most vulnerable in communities: mothers and babies.
Why Should Pakistan Adopt the Baby Box System?
There are a number of reasons why Pakistani hospitals could benefit from adopting the baby box system:
- Reduce Infant Mortality: One of the main reasons to adopt the baby box system is to help reduce the high infant mortality rates in Pakistan. Providing a safe and clean sleeping environment for infants, and also providing essential items for newborns, can help to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related deaths.
- Improved Maternal and Infant Health: The baby box system could also improve the overall health and well-being of both mothers and infants. By providing essential items such as clothes, blankets, and other basic necessities, families may have less stress to afford those items, which can help to improve the emotional and mental health of the mother.
- Educational opportunity: The baby box can also be a powerful tool for education and awareness, especially for new mothers about proper infant care, nutrition and breastfeeding which can help to improve the overall health of the newborns.
- Increase access to healthcare: Baby boxes can also increase access to healthcare for families, by providing them with transportation assistance to the hospital during delivery and also in-home follow-ups by health workers.
- Cost-effective solution: The baby box system can be a cost-effective solution to help improve the health and well-being of newborns and mothers. Rather than incurring high costs for expensive equipment and facilities, hospitals can provide basic essentials and education through a relatively low-cost system.
It’s important to note that, the baby box system should be integrated with other healthcare initiatives and policies, and should be adapted to the local context of Pakistan. Additionally, it’s crucial to evaluate the effectiveness and impact of the baby box program periodically to make any necessary adjustments.
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