As the hour-long talk progressed, each panelist shared their insights on the topic through case studies of different regions in Sindh. A short documentary clip, featuring Javeri, Abbas and Mahmood on the field, preceded the discussion. The book and documentary shared a simple tagline: Wash your hands before making contact with newborns. The three-man team had made visits to remote regions of Karachi and some other parts of Sindh, meeting with mothers and other family members of low-income households. Their visits were documented photographically by Javeri, who was primarily concerned with the aspect of touch between the mother and child. While Hasan and Abbas conducted fieldwork with low-income households in Machar Colony and Thatta respectively, Mahmood’s work analyzed the negligence of hygiene with respect to infants in urban middle class families.
The panelists also quoted some astounding facts about hygiene levels and infant death rates in the country. Pakistan has one of the largest infant mortality rates in the world, at about 50 per 1,000 births. The major cause of these staggering figures is surprisingly simple: infections via touch. The panel also provided simple but effective solutions to maintaining hygiene in the household. Dr. Pal and Dr. Rizvi stressed that educating mothers about the need to wash their hands before making contact with their newborns is of immense importance. “No number of NGOs can provide a scalable remedy to this grave problem – the government and the citizens must become actively involved”, added Tahera Hasan.
The 7th Karachi Literature Festival concluded on Sunday. With each copy of 28 Days sold, the proceeds will go to the National Institute of Child Health.
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