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PAKISTAN

Pakistan compares poorly with its South-Asian counterparts for health indices, with the second highest infant mortality rate and under five mortality rate in the region. The most recent national nutrition survey has found high prevalence of underweight, stunting and wasting in children aged 0-59 months. Our analysis found that women with greater contact with the healthcare system (completion of antenatal care visits and delivery in health care facility under supervision of physician) are at greater risk of non-exclusive breastfeeding.

OUR FINDINGS: 

  • A high proportion of infants had a history of breastfeeding.

  • Less than one-third of all newborns were breastfed within the first hour of birth.

  • Among infants with a history of breastfeeding, fewer than four out of 10 were exclusively breastfed to six months of age.

  • Over a quarter of infants were bottle fed.

  • Six in 10 infants did not receive complementary feeding between 6–9 months of age.

OUR RECOMMENDATIONS: 

  • Build capacity and incentivise the health workforce to promote appropriate IYCF practices among women with increased contact with the health system.

  • Include IYCF indicators as key measures of performance for the accreditation process of public and private health facilities providing obstetric and child health services.

  • Improve legislative and infrastructural support for maternity leave and breastfeeding in the workplace.

  • Undertake further research to elucidate the underlying causes of the large geographic and social variations in performance on IYCF indicators.