LAHORE - Under-five mortality is directly linked with education of mothers, child survival increases with increase in education and vice versa. The same is the case with socio economic conditions of families, especially mothers-mortality rate higher for those living below poverty line and decrease with increase in economic resources.

Under-five mortality among children born to mothers with no education is 112 deaths per 1,000 live births. It is almost twice that of children born to mothers with secondary education, 57 deaths per 1,000 live births. Under-five mortality is least for children born to mothers with higher education, 36 deaths per 1,000 live births.

“Available data tells the real story. Education of mothers is a key to the survival of children. Unfortunately, 57 per cent of the female population is illiterate. Uneducated mothers rely on traditions while handling children. Educated women start caring children even during pregnancy. They regularly visit gynecologists, get BCG vaccine and take proper diet till giving births,” said Dr Abdul Rauf, a leading family physician.

“Birth spacing is important for mother and child health. It increases chances of survival of a child. Education of a mother is a key for birth spacing that is helpful for child survival”, he said.

“Educated mothers give due importance to nutrition and hygiene and immunisation of children against vaccine preventable diseases. They waste no time in taking children to doctors even in case of minor illness”, said Dr Abdul Rauf, who daily take dozens of under-five patients at his clinic. “Educated mothers are more aware and curious. They ask questions regarding health of their children,” he told The Nation.

“Yes, education is important. There are factors that are directly linked with female education. Socio economic status of a family is important in provision of education to females. Those living below poverty line can’t enjoy this luxury. As such more educated women are usually more independent especially economically. They can provide better nutrition, hygiene and medical care when needed,” said Dr Khuzaima, consultant at Institute of Child Health and Children’s Hospital.

Rural and urban divide also affect child survival. Children in rural areas are more likely to die young than those in urban areas. Under-five mortality in rural areas is 106 per 1,000 live births compared to 74 per 1,000 live births in urban areas.

“Women literacy is much lower in rural areas as compared to urban areas. Similarly, women are not financially dependent in rural areas. Less education and lack of financial resources are major issues,” said Dr Khuzaima.

“There is better EPI coverage in urban areas, especially big cities like Lahore. Qualified doctors are available at hospitals having latest equipment and infrastructure. Easy access to healthcare is helpful in checking infant and under-five mortality rate. The situation is entirely different in rural and far flung areas. People there face difficulties in treatment of children due to lack of healthcare facilities nearby,” he added.