Thursday, September 25, 2014

Over 300,000 children die every year due to malnutrition in Pakistan

Over 300,000 children die every year due to malnutrition in Pakistan

The health sector in Pakistan needs immediate media attention to highlight deteriorating child health issues in particular. The shocking facts are that Pakistan has the highest number of first day child deaths in the world- breastfeeding not increased even 1 per cent in the last five years while malnutrition is affecting half of mothers and children amongst Pakistani population.

Save the Children campaign EVERYONE is aiming to change that and seeks active media support.  For the purpose a two-day training workshop is conducted in Karachi on September 22/23 for health journalists.

Prof. Dr. Iqbal memon, President Pakistan Paediatric Association disclosed that over 450,000 children die before reaching the age of five out of which 300,000 children die every year in Pakistan due to malnutrition this in a seminar on child mortality held by Mishal Pakistan in collaboration with Save the children. He said that in Sindh alone every 3rd new-born child is affected by malnutrition.

The sole purpose is to not only apprise the health reporters and media representatives about the alarming current situation on child and mother health issues which are getting worse because of marginal increase in the health budget which accounts for less than even 1 per cent. Pakistan Medical Association believes that a budgetary allocation of 6 per cent is a minimum to improve mother and child health issues.

Save the Children provincial representative told the training session that it is willing to facilitate media representatives to highlight the issues.

Pakistan’s performance on health and nutrition indicates a deplorable public healthcare system in the country, becoming an impediment to eradicating poverty due to lack of proper governance measures required despite the increase in expenditure to Rs. 102 billion in 2013-14. The Govt since 18th Amendment has been unable to produce a robust policy which is centric to human capital development in the country; said Puruesh Chaudhary, Founder and President AGAHI.

Pakistan is certain to miss targets of Millennium Development goals No 4 & 5 which relates to child and mother mortality in 2015. The targets have now been included in Vision 2025 by the Government of Pakistan, which were supposed to be achieved by 2015.

But as it is said that it is never too late the media, civil society and health organizations can join hands and create a pressure on policy makers to get their priorities right and focus on child health issues.

Breastfeeding stands at a record low of 37.7 per cent in Pakistan while bottle feeding has increased to over 42 per cent showing a sharp rise of over 11 per cent in the past five years as compared to breastfeeding which has registered an increase of .6 per cent in the last five years.

Agahi’s lead trainer Mubashir Zaidi told the training participants that media is acting as an agent of change but seems to be losing its direction by focusing more on politics and conflict areas rather that reporting on social issues that includes health and education. He also asked journalists to make use of social media to create awareness amongst youth to raise their voice for a better health system in Pakistan.  He said editors should also give importance to health stories and encourage reporters to do more health reports

President Karachi Press Club, told the journalists that reporting on health should be enhanced in the media in order to pressure the authorities to improve the health sector. He asked the media to uncover corruption and mismanagement in the hospitals and also highlight negligence on part of some doctors who discourage breastfeeding and suggest bottled milk after getting favours from some companies which promote bottled milk.

Asif Farooqi, Chief Operation Officer for Mishal Pakistan a country partner institute of the Center for Global Competitiveness and Benchmarking Networks of the World Economic Forum, said that this year’s Agahi awards will also be focusing on health reporters for producing relevant content on challenges related to mother and child health.

Syed Nasir Shah, MPA of PPP, who is also the member of Infant Feeding Board told the media that the government is taking all necessary measures to encourage breast-feeding. He distributed certificates among the participants.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Pakistan Ranked at 129 on the Global Competitiveness Index of the World Economic Forum

World Economic Forum Improves Pakistan’s Competitiveness Ranking.

Securing 129th rank among 144 Economies around the world, Pakistan improves 4 ranks as compared to 2013.

Pakistan has been ranked at 129 out of the 144 economies around the world in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report (GCR) 2014 - 2015, released on the 3rd of September 2014 in Geneva.

The Global Competitiveness Report 2014-2015 assesses the competitiveness landscape of 144 economies, providing insight into the drivers of their productivity, innovation and prosperity.

The report findings show that Switzerland tops the overall rankings in the Global Competitiveness Report for the fifth consecutive year. Singapore remains in second position, the United States in third position, and Finland ranked at 4th.  Germany 5, Japan 6, Hong Kong 7, The Netherlands 8, the United Kingdom 9, and Sweden ranked at 10.

The report evaluates that among the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Pakistan is the at the last among the SAARC member countries at 129, whereas India is at 71, Sri Lanka at 73, Nepal at 102, Bhutan at 103, Bangladesh at 109. Afghanistan and Maldives have not been included in the report this year. However India and Sri Lanka both lost 11 and 8 points respectively as compared to last year.

“Although Pakistan has shown slight improvements on the Global Competitiveness Index, it is still passing though a difficult time”, said Amir Jahangir, Chief Executive Officer of Mishal Pakistan, the country partner institute of the Global Competitiveness and Benchmarking Network of the World Economic Forum. He further said “Pakistan is facing serious challenges on the economic management side; with a double-digit inflation, very low savings rate of 13.2% of the GDP, general government debt at 63.1% of GDP and the 8% budget deficit gives little room for government to create socio-economic dividends for its citizens”. “Pakistan needs to make competitiveness as part of its growth and stabilization strategy for sustainable development across all factors of economy”, Jahangir said.

This year report consists of three main indexes and 12 pillars. Among 144 economies, Pakistan ranked in basic requirements at 134, in efficiency enhancers at 101 and in innovation and sophistication factors ranked at 83. All the 12 pillars included into the report ranks Pakistan as follows: Institutions are ranked at 123, infrastructure at 119, macroeconomic environment at 137, health and primary education at 129, higher education and training at 127, goods market efficiency at 100, labor market efficiency at 132, financial market development at 72, technological readiness at 114, market size at 30, business sophistication at 81 and innovation at 88.

After two consecutive years of steep decline, Pakistan (129th) remains essentially stable since last year. The country obtains low marks in the most critical and basic areas of competitiveness. Its public institutions (125th) are constrained by red tape, corruption, patronage, and lack of property rights protection. Its security situation remains alarming (142nd). Pakistan is the third least safe countries covered, behind only Yemen and Libya.

Thanks to a lower inflation rate and a smaller budget deficit, the country’s macroeconomic situation improves slightly but nevertheless remains dismissal (137th). Pakistan’s infrastructure (119th) particularly for electricity (133rd) is underdeveloped. Moreover, the country’s performance in terms of health and education is among the worst of all the countries covered. Infant mortality (137th) is the highest outside sub-Saharan Africa, and with one of the lowest enrollment rates in the world (132nd) is the estimated that almost a quarter of children do not go to primary school.

Pakistan’s competitiveness is further penalized by the many rigidities and inefficiencies of its labor market (132nd, up six). Female participation in the labor force is the world’s fifth lowest (140th). The potential for ICTs is not sufficiently leveraged and access to ICTs remain low (114th). On a slightly more positive note, Pakistan does comparatively better in the more advanced areas captured by the Global Competitiveness Index ranking 72nd in the financial development pillar and 81st on the business sophistication pillar.

The most problematic areas in doing business in Pakistan stipulated in the report include corruption as the leading factor, along with, policy instability, access to financing, inefficient government bureaucracy, inflation, inadequate supply of infrastructure, government instability/coups, crime and theft, inadequately educated workforce, tax rates, tax regulations, poor public health and insufficient capacity to innovate. 

The most problematic factors for doing business in Pakistan: Global Competitiveness Report 2014-2015
The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report is the most influential ranking of a country’s economic competitiveness and it affects Pakistan’s image in the world among business, governments and financial leaders. The Report series remains the most comprehensive assessment of national competitiveness worldwide.

“The global economy may have exited crisis mode, but the path to sustainable growth remains uncertain,” said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum. “Quality growth is key to reinforcing inclusiveness and it is imperative that leaders act now to underscore prosperity and productivity for the future.”

On the global side the health of the global economy is at risk, despite years of bold monetary policy, as countries struggle to implement structural reforms necessary to help economies grow. In its annual assessment of the factors driving countries’ productivity and prosperity, the report identifies uneven implementation of structural reforms across different regions and levels of development as the biggest challenge to sustaining global growth. It also highlights talent and innovation as two areas where leaders in the public and private sectors need to collaborate more effectively in order to achieve sustainable and inclusive economic development.

The Global Competitiveness Report’s competitiveness ranking is based on the Global Competitiveness Index (GCI), which was introduced by the World Economic Forum in 2004. Defining competitiveness as the set of institutions, policies and factors that determine the level of productivity of a country, GCI scores are calculated by drawing together country-level data covering 12 categories – the pillars of competitiveness – that collectively make up a comprehensive picture of a country’s competitiveness.

Mishal Pakistan is the country partner institute of the Center for Global Competitiveness and Benchmarking Networks of the World Economic Forum. Established in 2003, Mishal has been engaged with key stakeholders in Pakistan to improve the state of competitiveness and media through good governance initiatives and by creating appreciation for data journalism.

The World Economic Forum is an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging leaders in partnerships to shape global, regional and industry agendas. Incorporated as a foundation in 1971, and headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.