Islamabad - Speakers have stressed upon the role of research-based evidence to action beyond 2015 in order to build better policies and practices related to maternal and newborn health in the country.

They were addressing the two-day health conference  held here to share the learning from more than six years of successful projects of Research and Advocacy Fund for Maternal and Newborn Health (RAF) and give profile to issues to determine the way forward beyond 2015. The conference organized by RAF facilitated debates and discussions leading to call for action to support sustainable development goals beyond 2015. Speakers from both government and development sector of Pakistan emphasized on the importance of research-based evidence to improve policies and practices related to maternal and newborn health in the country.

Regional and international participants also shared learning from their own country’s contexts and how Pakistan can benefit from their experiences.

Minister for Planning and Development, Ahsan Iqbal emphasized on the importance of research funded by RAF and applauded its role in improving mother and neonatal health situation in Pakistan. He said that the government of Pakistan is committed and has taken major initiatives to make investments in the social sector. “By 2025, we will see Pakistan among the top economies of the world.”

Sharing her views Deputy Head of Department for International Development (DFID) office, Judith Herbertson, said, “It was to tackle some of the unacceptable health figures pertaining to women and children health that the RAF was set up. The RAF is very much seen at the outset to improve maternal and new born health and using  advocacy and research to push for policy change.”

Australia Head of Aid, Peter Coventry reaffirmed Australia Aid’s commitment to Pakistan and said, the Australian government is strongly committed to improving maternal, neo-natal and child health in Pakistan.  The RAF Programme Manager Sarah Hall expressed gratitude towards all the stakeholders for their support throughout the term of the project.

She said, “I take pride in sharing with my partners and beneficiaries that through its advocacy projects the RAF had a significant impact not only

through country-wide on-ground activities but also on the strategy and sustainability of the projects which will benefit the future of MNH in Pakistan.” John Payne, Regional Business Director British Council, Judith Herbertson, Deputy Head of Office DFID Pakistan, Peter Coventry, Head of Aid DFAT, Dr Susheela Singh,Vice President for Research Guttmacher Institute, Dr Zulfiqar Bhutta, Robert Harding Inaugural Chair Global Child Health The Hospital for Sick Children, and Sarah Hall, Programme Manager RAF also addressed the audience, stressing the respective commitments of their organizations to improving Pakistan’s health outcomes.  

They said that Research and Advocacy Fund is a key component of the United Kingdom’s DFID and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)’s commitment to Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5, and their support to Maternal and Newborn Health (MNH) in Pakistan.

The event was attended by delegates from both the public and private sector, including provincial secretaries and director generals of health maternal, neo-natal and child health (MNCH) programme managers and heads of various national and international NGOs.