Khost infant mortality rate up sharply
KHOST CITY (PAN): Forty newborn babies have died in southeastern Khost province over the past one month, indicating a sharp increase in the infant mortality rate, health officials said on Sunday.
The 40 newborns who died had less than a kilo of weight, Public Health Director Dr. Hidayatullah Hamidi told Pajhwok Afghan News during an exclusive interview.
He linked the increasing infant mortality rate to poor nutrition, improper care of pregnant mothers, self-medication and short birth intervals.
The director said they had launched public awareness programmes across the province in a bid to prevent infant deaths. He urged mothers to avoid taking medicine without consulting doctors.
However, residents blamed the deaths on a lack of essential facilities at the provincial civil hospital and professional personnel. Jamshid, a resident of Sabari district, said the hospital lacked required facilities for newborns and mothers.
Jamshid, who was in hospital last night with a patient, claimed more than 30 deliveries took place in 12 hours. The infants and mother did not receive the treatment and care they needed, he believed.
But a doctor at the Khost Civil Hospital, Majeed Mangal, rejected the claim that they lacked facilities or professional staff. He insisted all delivery cases were being handled by trained staffers.
The doctor linked the rising infant mortality rate to poor levels of awareness among the people. He said mostly pregnant women on the verge of death were brought to hospital.
A social affairs expert and journalist, Mohammad Ilyas Wahdat, saw cultural restrictions and self-medication behind the alarming infant mortality rate.
He said most of the people did not take pregnant women to hospital, considering the act a shame. Religious scholars could play a major role in convincing people into taking their women to hospital for pre-and post-natal check-up.