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Giving birth is a battle for survival in Afghanistan

We at Women of Vision are passionate about maternal health in Afghanistan, so we were excited to see this issue highlighted by AlertNet. World Vision’s midwifery program and Herat Maternity Hospital are both mentioned.

A baby boy out as women wait for food aid in Kunduz in this photo from December 2009. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

From Reuters AlertNet: “…Politicians, economists and activists from around the world met in Bonn this month to thrash out their vision for battered and impoverished Afghanistan. In addition to the insurgency and violence, it remains the most dangerous place in the world for a woman to have a baby, the latest World Health Organization data shows.

The figures are distressing, but still a marked improvement on the situation 10 years ago. The latest available WHO data, from 2008, shows the number of women who died giving birth had dipped to 1,400 per 100,000 live births from 1,800 in 2000.

The Ministry of Public Health says it has made maternal health a priority, supporting training schemes that have lifted the number of qualified midwives in the country to 3,000 from just 400, and expanding emergency delivery services.

“We have demonstrated that these strategies can work in Afghanistan. They can bring a change in the lives of women and families,” acting public health minister Suraya Dalil says. “The challenge is to sustain those achievements.”

Charities such as World Vision — which trained Somayeh — and Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) also have in-depth programmes to help new mothers across Afghanistan…

Herat’s Institute of Health Sciences (IHS) has trained 256 midwives in the past seven years through schemes largely supported by charities such as World Vision. Many of its students have been deliberately selected from remote villages…

“Everybody hopes there will be no more war in Afghanistan,” says one senior shura, or village council, member from rural Herat. “The first thing we want is safety, the second is to improve people’s health. We need doctors — we need midwives.”

Read the full article here.

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