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University of the Punjab

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Community mobilization to improve mother, child’s health
Community mobilization to improve mother, child’s health

LAHORE: (Tuesday, October 29, 2019): Punjab University Institute of Social and Cultural Studies Director Prof Dr Rubina Zakar has said that Maternal and Child Week (MCW) program supported by UNICEF has effectively provided maternal, neonatal and child health (MNCH) services to target populations, met community needs and raised health awareness by using Pakistan’s existing network of outreach workers – albeit with regional variations. She was speaking at a workshop on evaluations of programs organized by ISCS for young researchers and scholars. The aim of the workshop was to engage young researchers in program evaluations. UNICEF’s representative Dr. Mussarrat Yousuf from New York on video link, faculty members and a large number of students participated in the workshop. Addressing the workshop, she emphasized that young people could be agent of change in their communities if they are provided with skills and opportunities needed to reach their potential. She said that evaluation was integral to strengthen the quality of program and improve their outcomes and services for the beneficiaries. She shared her experiences of conducting evaluation of MCW program supported by UNICEF. She said that the objective of this evaluation workshop was to identify lessons learnt and provide evidence for improved programme design, implementation and evidence-based decision-making on MNCH in Pakistan. She said that to explore the MCW program’s relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, outcomes and sustainability, qualitative research methods were used, such as Key Informant Interviews (KIIs) and Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) with different stakeholders, coupled with desk research. She said that quantitative methods, such as a household survey and case studies, were used to assess the MCW initiative’s coverage and efficiency. She said that contribution analysis provided a credible assessment of cause and effect, enabling the evaluation team to verify the theory of change upon which the MCW initiative was based and to examine whether the initiative achieved its intended outcomes.
She said that the availability of free health services was a major driving force behind women’s high levels of participation in MCW activities. She said that the initiative prompted positive results in many areas – such as Punjab, Sindh, AJK and KP – some regions performed relatively poorly, including Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Balochistan. She further said that certain management and capacity issues hindered the initiative’s sustainability, such as the scarcity of financial and human resources, the exclusion of areas that are not covered by LHWs and gaps in micro-planning.
Addressing the workshop, Dr. Mussarrat Yousuf from UNICEF shared that the MCW initiative had the potential to increase maternal and child health coverage by enhancing community participation through community mobilization. She said that the program could be improved through the effective participation of civil society and communities, the adequate and timely provision of logistical supplies and by enhancing financial incentives for health workers in the field. She further said that change could not come alone and there was a need for all stakeholders to work together and ‘build a movement’ to improve maternal and child health in Pakistan.
At the end a question-answer session held to answer questions posed by the young researchers on the different aspects of evaluation.