It’s been a great end to 2013 for the project, Train Afghan Women to Champion Reproductive Health! With invaluable support from GlobalGiving donors and the Conservation, Food & Health Foundation, between October 1, 2013 and December 31, 2013 we were able to reach more women through this expanding program. The additional Mullahs’ wives we were able to recruit and train (thanks to your support!) as Health Education Champions (HECs) during the last reporting period have brought our team to a total number of 22 HECs, eleven in Herat Province and eleven in Balkh. This means we were able to reach significantly more women!
Between October 1 and December 31, 2013 HECs reached 970 women in Herat Province with essential reproductive health messages including messages on family planning, birth spacing, and the importance of breast feeding. As a result, 362 new clients visited our clinics to receive a range of services including family planning counselling and services, ante natal care, post natal care, STI testing, and health care for children less than five years of age.
In the same period, HECs reached 1,334 women in Balkh Province with essential reproductive health messages and as a result, 472 new clients were referred to MSIA clinics. These are huge numbers for the program. This demonstrates both the significant demand for our services and the effectiveness of Mullahs’ wives as a medium to deliver these essential messages.
The number of women reached during the reporting period increased significantly from earlier in the year due to our expanded team, which included enthusiastic and hardworking new recruits. HECs were able to hold even more sessions and 15 or more women usually attended each session.
Significantly, the locations where the HECs delivered their messages changed somewhat with more Mullahs’ wives holding education sessions outside of their homes. HECs spoke at women’s gatherings, community events and ceremonies, as well as at religious schools. One HEC began preaching in the Women’s Mosque and as a result, many more women were reached with these essential reproductive health messages. This is a very significant and positive development and reflects the ever increasing visibility and importance placed on family planning and maternal and child health in Afghanistan. The number of women referred to MSIA clinics also increased because of the efforts of the new recruits and the changing location of the message delivery. Additionally, more Mullahs’ wives accompanied women to MSIA clinics.
Challenges encountered stem from the increasing number of women wishing to attend MSIA clinics and requesting that the Mullahs’ wives accompanu them. This clearly demonstrates the strong relationship and trust between the women and the Mullahs’ wives and this accompaniment is often encouraged as women must have a guardian. It does however also mean that the Mullahs’ wives are very busy and face challenges with meeting the cost of transport.
We are also excited to announce the unveiling of the family planning sculpture that took place in Kabul on January 8, 2014. Entitled the ‘Hand of Hope,’ the sculpture celebrates reproductive health in Afghanistan. A number of our religious leaders were invited to the sculpture unveiling event and the Public Health Minister, Dr. Soraya Dalil, made a point of recognizing their important role in raising awareness of family planning in Afghanistan. For more information on this event, please refer to the Marie Stopes website: http://www.mariestopes.org/news/putting-family-planning-hands-afghan-women
Thank you again for helping women in Afghanistan receive needed family planning services!
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