A ray of sunshine for vulnerable children

A ray of sunshine for vulnerable children

Shamas Khatoon is a traditional birth attendant in southern Pakistan. She looks after pregnant women, gives advice on nutrition and immunisation, and maintains hygiene and safety during home deliveries.

Childbirth problems in Pakistan

Our charity work: school boys attend hygiene education session in the district of Awaran

In complicated pregnancies, Shamas accompanies women to a local healthcare facility, providing post-delivery care. She also teaches them about family planning.  ‘I am happy that I am now skilled and able to save the life of a newborn and mother. I was previously doing the same job without the knowledge of how to handle complex situations.

Training has helped me assess risks associated with pregnancy: I can now refer pregnant women to hospital in time.’

In Pakistan nearly one-in-ten children die before their fifth birthday – 80% in their first year of life. These high mortality rates are a result of overwhelming poverty, along with ineffective primary healthcare; a shortage of food; poor health and hygiene; and a lack of safe drinking water. Malnutrition, diarrhoea, respiratory illness and other preventable diseases account for two-thirds of child and infant deaths.

Shamas is one of more than 100 traditional birth attendants that Concern has trained

in Balochistan. Building local skills in prenatal care, safe delivery and managing emergencies has led to a fall in maternal and infant deaths.

Our charity work

Concern also helps older children who work for a living. Working children rarely

have access to education, healthcare, safe drinking water or sanitation facilities; their nutrition is poor; and they are exposed to many workplace hazards, including sexual harassment. Garbage pickers, who separate and collect hospital waste, are at a particularly high health risk due to exposure to HIV, hepatitis and toxic substances.

Concern's local partner WESS provides children with health and hygiene education and services; training to cope with sexual and workplace harassment; basic literacy and numeracy skills; art, craft and vocational skills; and play and recreation opportunities. Concern also works with communities and schools, helping children maintain their personal hygiene through access to clean water and sanitation facilities.

Concern works in hard-to-access and extremely poor communities throughout Pakistan. Addressing child health issues is just one part of our programme there.