Mothers in Afghanistan are alive today because of women like Marzia Resolu…
Marzia is among the 3,000 midwives who have been educated and trained through the national midwifery education system established by the government of Afghanistan with support from U.S. Agency forInternational Development (USAID) and Jhpiego.
During the years of Taliban rule, maternal mortality in Afghanistan was the second highest in the world, and women routinely died in pregnancy and childbirth. Maternal and newborn services and skilled care were nearly non-existent. The consequences for the women of Afghanistan were significant. The presence of a skilled health careprovider during birth is the single most important intervention to keep a pregnant woman and her newborn alive and healthy.
With community midwifery schools re-established and skilled midwives returning to the workforce, Afghanistan’s maternal death rate has declined significantly.
“Previously there was no midwife in our village and women were suffering bleeding and their children were dying. Now, thanks to God, we have got a midwife and since have not seen a pregnancy death.”
A Jhpiego-supported study found that the numbers of women receiving prenatal care services was greater in provinces that had community midwifery schools than in those without them. In those same provinces, more women gave birth in a health facility where complications could be addressed swiftly and properly.
“People in the village are happy with them since they are female, because we cannot talk to male doctors about our problem. If we go and see a male doctor, our men will kill us. These midwives are everything for us.”
A teacher, Marzia returned to school at age 26 to become a skilled midwife. Marzia, and others like her, will go to great lengths to ensure their patients receive the care they need – these midwives often walk or travel by donkey for hours to make home visits, working nights and long hours.
“I know that there is a great need for midwives in the region as many women have problems in childbirth because there are very few facilities and the insecurity makes it very hard for people to travel to hospital when they need to,” said Marzia. “I am very happy that I will be able to go back to my community . . . and help my people.
The demand for skilled midwives, however, remains high. An additional 5,000 educated and trained midwives are needed to ensure women living across this mountainous and rugged country receive the skilled care they need to survive childbirth. As international funding has declined, community midwifery schools have closed. When the Jhpiego-led Health Services Support Project ended in the fall of 2012, there were 32 schools. That number has since dropped to 22.
Continued strengthening of midwifery education and training in Afghanistan is essential to saving the lives of women and newborns in this country. Your support has made a great impact on the lives of women and their babies throughout Afghanistan. Working together, we will save the lives of many, many more.
Source material: EVALUATION OFTHE PRE-SERVICE MIDWIFERY EDUCATION PROGRAM IN AFGHANISTAN, March 2011, Health Services Support Project (HSSP)
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