Health Problems During Pregnancy in Pakistan
Pakistani women are among the worst affected when pregnant with health issues. With a very high mortality and morbidity rate during pregnancy and childbirth, the deaths per annum of women are among the highest in the world. There are many factors responsible for such problems. However, even more important is the lack of resources even for those who wish to seek treatment. The number of female doctors are very less, and in a society which does not allow the idea of a male doctor treating a female patient, the treatment options fade away (Butt, 2005).
The lack of medical facilities in various areas of Pakistan can be estimated by looking at Mardan, where at least 80 percent of the population is devoid of any health care facilities. Most of the people in Pakistan are living under the poverty line, making it extremely difficult to travel to distant areas for medical facilities. Even those who may live within access to these facilities may not be able to avail them as they cannot afford to do so (Pakistan Mardan Report, 2003). Pakistan currently has the worst mortality rates in South Asia where the death rates of pregnant women per 100,000 range from 300 to 700. The number of women who get pregnant each year are 5.4 million, many of whom suffer from complications of pregnancy that can be fatal (Pakistan Mardan Report,2003).
The dogmatic and extremely narrow approach to women and women’s health is the main reason why women are not able to get the proper medical attention. Women are at times not even allowed by other women to undergo medical treatment or visit a doctor. The tribal and rural concept of home deliveries aer another reason why patients remain undiagnosed of medical complications and later on suffer for the remainder of their lives.
The other medical complications of pregnancy have not been tabulated mostly because there are many areas where research cannot be carried out at all. This is either due to lack of medical personnel or facilities, or either because people do not allow their women to go to the doctors.
Social dogmas limit further the rights and access of women to reproductive health services. Domestic violence remains a chief cause of complications related to pregnancy including unwanted pregnancies, lack of access to family planning services, unsafe abortions or injuries due to abortion, complications due to frequent and high risk pregnancies, lack of follow up care, sexually transmitted infections, and other psychological problems (Gender Based Violence and Reproductive Health, nd).
The overall lack of proper psychological services and rehabilitation centers may lead to women remaining undiagnosed with depression and other conditions, especially after delivery of the baby.
The reproductive health is among the most serious problems that women face in Pakistan. They have no right to take any decisions regarding their health, which affects their morbidity and motality, and as a consequence affects the development of the children. Many children lose their mothers to frequent pregnancies and complications.
The efforts to create more services and making them available to various parts of Pakistan is an endeavour that should be lauded. However, there is still a long way to go, and unless the societal perceptions and views are changed, the situation is unlikely to change.