MSF opens a 'women's hospital' in Peshawar, Pakistan

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© Seb Geo Women seeking treatment in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province following last year's floods in Pakistan.

Pakistan has one of the highest rates of maternal and infant mortality in Central Asia. Women and children are the first victims of shortages of health care staff and the general lack of medical care in the country. However, Dr. Misa Sugawara, director of MSF's ‘women's hospital’, said "many lives could be saved if the risks of complications were detected in time and if emergencies were treated quickly." But in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province, as in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), women who are refugees, displaced or poor have very little access to high-quality obstetrical and gynecological care.

 

Millennium Development Goal 5: reduce the rate of maternal mortality by three-quarters by 2015

Maternal mortality is the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of pregnancy, irrespective of the term and site of the pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management but not from accidental or incidental causes.  

 
According to the World Health Organization, 1,500 women die every day from complications related to pregnancy or childbirth. Most deaths occur in developing countries and are avoidable. The improvement of maternal health is one of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDG) adopted by the international community during the Millennium Summit. The fifth goal seeks to reduce the rate of maternal mortality by three-quarters between 1990 and 2015. That rate fell only 5% between 1990 and 2005. 

An MSF 'women's hospital'
After evaluating OB/GYN needs in Peshawar and neighboring rural areas, MSF decided to build a 30-bed reference hospital, furnished with a labor and delivery room and an operating room, dedicated to vulnerable women in the valley. Starting on May 18, 70 MSF staff will provide free, emergency OB-GYN care (surgery, labor and delivery, consultations and hospitalization) around the clock. The goal is to reduce the risk of maternal mortality and morbidity by improving the screening, prevention and treatment of disease during pregnancy and/or labor and delivery.

MSF will also support health agencies in Peshawar district, providing family planning and pre- and post-natal care there. This local presence will enable MSF to identify high-risk pregnancies, obstetrical emergencies and women with serious gynecological problems and to arrange for their transfer to MSF's ‘women's hospital’.

Lastly, to ensure improved access to care, a medical referral network has been set up among the area's health centers, rural communities and displaced persons' camps. This network will gradually expand to other poor communities around Peshawar and to neighboring tribal areas.

In late 2009, MSF launched a maternal-child health care program at the reference hospital in Dera Murad Jamali (DMJ) district in Balochistan.